The study was conducted on 104 grocery store employees in Boston, Massachusetts.
Grocery store employees are now at high risk of contracting Covid-19 infections. (Representattional Image, PTI Photo)
Grocery store employees are now at high risk of contracting Covid-19 infections, suggested a first-of-its-kind study and reported by IE. According to the study published in the BMJ Group journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, store workers who are in the role of interacting with customers for billing or other transactions have five times more risk of testing Covid-19 positive than colleagues in other positions.
The study was conducted on 104 grocery store employees in Boston, Massachusetts. After each subject tested for SARS-CoV-2, a virus that causes Covid-19, one in five workers tested positive in May this year indicating the prevalence of the infection of 20% of the cases. This was significantly higher than the infection the local community suffered at that time.
Among those who tested positive, three out of four of the subjects were asymptomatic, suggesting they could be a significant repository of the virus spreading infection unalarmed, the research further suggested. 76% of the workers who tested positive had no symptoms and of those, more than 90% of the employees who tested positive had a direct customer-facing role.
Each worker had to go through a complete questionnaire on their medical history, lifestyle, work cycle, role, employment history, means of commutation and protective measures accepted to resist infection at work. Questions were also asked about their association with any confirmed SARS-CoV-2 patient over the past 14 days and if they have been suffering from anxiety or depression.
The researchers, however, caution that it was a small study based on observations and subjective reports in one store in one city and at one point in time and hence can’t establish a cause.
The researchers further pointed out that this is the first study to find out the significant infection rate caused by asymptomatic workers, exposure risks of customer-facing employees, and their associated psychological distress during the pandemic.
They believe that their study should back a policy on implementing preventive mechanism and logistics arrangements to reduce interpersonal contact with customers to ensure the health and safety of the grocery store essential workers.