Coronavirus: Holloway security guard isn’t surprised men of his occupation have highest risk of dying with Covid-19 because shoplifters threaten to spit on him
PUBLISHED: 15:22 12 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:40 12 May 2020
A security guard at Holloway Road Waitrose says he isn’t surprised men with his occupation have the highest rate of Covid-19 deaths – not least because shoplifters threaten to spit on him.
Security guards, cabbies, construction workers and bus drivers are among those most likely to die with coronavirus, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data released on Monday.
The figures are based on the 2,494 deaths involving coronavirus in the working age population (those aged 20 to 64 years) of England and Wales, registered up to and including April 20.
Over this period, ONS found that nearly two-thirds of coronavirus-related deaths were among men (1,612 deaths).
It also noted men working in “low-skilled occupations” had the highest rate of death involving Covid-19, with 21.4 deaths per 100,000 males (225 deaths).
Men working as security guards accounted for 45.7 deaths per 100,000 (63 deaths) over this period.
Victor Ikeakhe, 49, has worked as a security guard at the Holloway Road Waitrose for the past 10 years – and previously featured in this paper after he helped catch the man who stabbed a mother in front of her toddler.
He told the Gazette: “The [ONS] report is right because as security guards we are on the frontline because we’re the first and last people they come into contact with. And, obviously, I deal with a lot of shoplifters here and to deal with them you have to come close, less than two metres.
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“I knew I was at risk. I’m in the hands of God. I don’t feel threatened or scared.”
Victor says he’s been supplied with a visor, gloves and hand sanitiser by Waitrose.
He says he’d noticed people are increasingly using coughing and spitting as a threat to staff and customers during the pandemic, adding: “This lady came. People were queuing. She was begging for money and they ignored her so she started spitting at them. The customers were really scared and upset, I had to call the police.
“No one has done it to me but I have been threatened with it. I stopped a female shoplifter and she said: ‘I’m ill. Let me go. I’m going to spit on you’. But I took the stock of her anyway, it made me feel uncomfortable, vulnerable and angry.”
Among men, a number of other occupations were found to have raised rates of death involving Covid-19, including: taxi drivers and chauffeurs (36.4 deaths per 100,000); bus and coach drivers (26.4 deaths per 100,000) and chefs (35.9 deaths per 100,000).
Black cab driver Joe Lewis, who lives just off Caledonian Road, hasn’t been working for the past two months because “business has fallen through the floor and it made absolutely no sense for [him] to be working”.
He told the Gazette: “There’s a combination of things putting me off work, obviously Covid is one of them now the stats have come out saying taxi drivers are in a high-risk band.”
He continued: “I have my dad who’s 77 and my kids, so the last thing I would want is to expose them to the potential risks of Covid-19. It would be very unfair. You can imagine those cab drivers who’ve lost their lives, the worry their families must be feeling because of the contagiousness. I wouldn’t want to do it purely because of the risk.”
Men and women working in social care, a group including care workers and home carers, both had significantly raised rates of death involving Covid-19, with rates of 23.4 deaths per 100,000 males (45 deaths) and 9.6 deaths per 100,000 females (86 deaths).
Healthcare workers, including those with jobs such as doctors and nurses, were not found to have higher rates of death involving Covid-19 when compared with the rate among those whose death involved coronavirus of the same age and sex in the general population.
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