A SARS-CoV-2 outbreak investigation at a storage and distribution centre in England: an assessment of worker- and workplace-related risk factors

Amber I. Raja, Gillian Nicholls, Matthew Coldwell, Karin van Veldhoven, Vince Sandys, Barry Atkinson, Ian Nicholls, Antony Spencer, Alice Graham, Hannah Higgins, Christina Atchison, Chris Keen, Tony Fletcher, Neil Pearce, Elizabeth B. Brickley, Yiqun Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

An outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 (1 March to 10 May 2021) with an attack rate of 26.5% among approximately 1150 workers at a storage and distribution centre in England prompted a multidisciplinary outbreak investigation (5 May to 6 August 2021), with the aim of better understanding worker- and workplace-related risk factors for viral transmission in the warehousing sector. Overall, environmental factors (e.g., ventilation, humidity and temperature) were assessed to be appropriate at the facility. Nevertheless, 39 (51.3%) surface samples from across the site tested positive for low/ very low levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA (Ct value ≥ 32.0 for all). Among the study participants, of whom 35.6% were confirmed or suspected cases, 95.5% reported having received COVID-19 prevention training, 100.0% reported handwashing, and 80.0% reported use of face coverings at work. Notably, 43.9% and 19.0% reported working with a symptomatic and a positive contact respectively. Furthermore, 80.5% and 46.3% had concerns regarding reduction in their income and future unemployment, respectively, due to self-isolation. The findings of this study suggest that, in addition to targeted workplace infection control measures and tailored work area specific risk assessments, an enhanced and equitable sick leave policy may help limit presenteeism and viral transmission in large workplaces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9561
JournalScientific Reports
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024

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© Crown 2024.

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