Investigation of a SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak at an Automotive Manufacturing Site in England

Amber I. Raja, Karin van Veldhoven, Adanna Ewuzie, Gillian Frost, Vince Sandys, Barry Atkinson, Ian Nicholls, Alice Graham, Hannah Higgins, Matthew Coldwell, Andrew Simpson, Joan Cooke, Allan Bennett, Chris Barber, Derek Morgan, Christina Atchison, Chris Keen, Tony Fletcher, Neil Pearce, Elizabeth B. BrickleyYiqun Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Workplace-related outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continue to occur globally. The manufacturing sector presents a particular concern for outbreaks, and a better understanding of transmission risks are needed. Between 9 March and 24 April 2021, the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) Outbreak Investigation to Understand Transmission (COVID-OUT) study undertook a comprehensive investigation of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak at an automotive manufacturing site in England. The site had a total of 266 workers, and 51 SARS-CoV-2 infections. Overall, ventilation, humidity, and temperature at the site were assessed to be appropriate for the number of workers and the work being conducted. The company had implemented a number of infection control procedures, including provision of face coverings, spacing in the work, and welfare areas to allow for social distancing. However, observations of worker practices identified lapses in social distancing, although all were wearing face coverings. A total of 38 workers, including four confirmed cases, participated in the COVID-OUT study. The majority of participants received COVID-19 prevention training, though 42.9% also reported that their work required close physical contact with co-workers. Additionally, 73.7% and 34.2% had concerns regarding reductions in future income and future unemployment, respectively, due to self-isolation. This investigation adds to the growing body of evidence of SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks from the manufacturing sector. Despite a layered COVID-19 control strategy at this site, cases clustered in areas of high occupancy and close worker proximity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6400
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was funded by the PROTECT (Partnership for Research in Occupational, Transport and Environmental COVID Transmission) COVID-19 National Core Study on Transmission and Environment and managed by the Health and Safety Executive on behalf of HM Government.

Open Access: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

Publisher Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Citation: Raja, A.I.; van Veldhoven, K.; Ewuzie, A.; Frost, G.; Sandys, V.; Atkinson, B.; Nicholls, I.; Graham, A.; Higgins, H.; Coldwell, M.; Simpson, A.; Cooke, J.; Bennett, A.; Barber, C.; Morgan, D.; Atchison, C.; Keen, C.; Fletcher, T.; Pearce, N.; Brickley, E.B.; Chen, Y. Investigation of a SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak at an Automotive Manufacturing Site in England. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 6400.



  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • manufacturing
  • outbreak
  • workplace


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