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London bus drivers are ‘three times more likely to die from Covid’

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London bus drivers were three times more likely to die from Covid than the wider UK population, a major investigation reveals today.

The risk fell to being twice as high as the national average once ethnicity and deprivation was factored out, but remained “statistically significant”.

A total of 88 London transport workers have died in the pandemic, 51 of them bus drivers. Many bus drivers are from BAME communities.

Friday’s report, the second from UCL Institute of Health Equity, finds that lives would have been saved if the first lockdown had started sooner than March 23 last year.

It says that all bus drivers need “continued protection” – on board and in bus depots.

Conservatives on the London Assembly described the report as a “whitewash” and said it ignored the “failure” of Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London to keep drivers safe.

TfL said passengers would continue to be required to wear masks as lockdown lifted to help protect drivers.

TfL also agreed to immediately fit new ventilation devices to all 9,000 buses in the capital to improve the flow of fresh air to the driver’s cab.

The report, which analysed data from bus operators and the Office for National Statistics, said it “indicates around a three-fold excess in age-standardised mortality in London bus drivers, compared to the population of the country as a whole”.

It said that after taking into account ethnicity and deprivation, “London bus drivers had a statistically significant, two-fold excess in mortality in the first wave of the epidemic”.

The report analysed the first 27 London bus driver deaths, which happened between March and May last year. A further 15 occurred between June and January but the report authors said it was too early to draw “definitive conclusions”.

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