IJERPH, Vol. 18, Pages 10734: Occupational Characteristics in the Outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta Variant in Nanjing, China: Rethinking the Occupational Health and Safety Vulnerability of Essential Workers (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
The risk of contracting COVID-19 varies by occupation. Clarifying the occupational disparity in the infection risk is crucial to the prevention and control of the epidemic in the workplace. In late July, some new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed among cleaners working in Lukou International Airport in Nanjing, China. The infected cases rapidly increased and spread to many domestic cities in the following days. The present study traces the brief reports of epidemiological investigations among the confirmed cases released by the Nanjing government from 20 July to 2 August, and offers a descriptive analysis on the occupational distribution of these cases. Cleaners and other staff working in the airport were found to make up more than 40% of all cases. The overwhelming majority of the cleaner cases were confirmed in the first 7 days. The present study statistically ascertains that the airport cleaners were the initial sufferers and transmitters in this outbreak. They experienced occupational health and safety vulnerability on both individual and contextual levels, including workplace hazards, workplace safety policies, and lack of awareness and empowerment. Effective protection for essential workers and the strict surveillance of occupational health in the workplace is urgently needed.