COVID-19 clusters in work settings in EU countries and the UK

11 August, 2020

Clusters of COVID-19 in different work settings in the European Union (EU) countries and the UK have been reported since the start of the pandemic. The ECDC has released a document stating that 15 countries in the EU and the UK have reported over 1,376 clusters of COVID-19 between March and July 2020. Workers in settings that require them to be in close proximity to others, especially in indoor settings, or those who need to share transportation or accommodation, are at a higher risk of acquiring COVID-19 without mitigation measures.

Most of COVID-19 clusters reported in work settings were from the health sector, even though testing of healthcare workers has been made a priority in all EU countries and the UK. Many clusters have also been reported in factories and manufacturing and in office settings, but fewer have been reported from the mining sector. Some occupations appear to have a higher risk of COVID-19 because workers in these sectors cannot work from home. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 in workplace settings, it is necessary to maintain physical distancing measures, perform regular and thorough cleaning, and ensure proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where required, especially in closed settings and where workers come into close contact with others. In addition, surveillance and contact tracing are essential, and "collaboration between public health and occupational health and safety agencies at local and national level will help with communication and mitigation of the spread of COVID-19 in occupational settings" as well as in communities in the EU and the UK.

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