A bus driver’s widow has claimed he and his colleagues had “no PPE whatsoever”, as a transport minister acknowledged the risks such key workers are facing from coronavirus.
At least nine bus drivers have died in the UK after testing positive for Covid-19.
London driver Nadir Nur, 48, was described by his widow Bishara Maye as a “dedicated, hardworking” father who took his duty as an essential worker seriously, but she said he was not protected.
She told the PA news agency: “Nadir and his colleagues had no PPE whatsoever.
“They worked in the frontline without any protection from this aggressive deadly virus. PPE should be made available for bus drivers who are putting their life at risk daily in order to put food on the table and pay bills.
“Bus drivers are doing their part for the country, we should be protecting them.”
He added that the Government wants to ensure the equipment is “in the right place at the right time”.
Giving evidence to the Commons’ Transport Select Committee on Tuesday, Mr Heaton-Harris said: “We obviously encourage all transport sector employees to check with the Public Health England guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“And we’re working with the sector and the trade unions – who I would like to thank very much for their co-operation in this area – to identify areas where there is a risk of short supply.
“My officials are working with key industry stakeholders to better understand the measures organisations are putting in place to protect their staff, and the further need of PPE going forward.”
She went on to say “there’s lots of things that can be done” and insisted the Department for Transport is working with bus operators to ensure they “understand exactly what they should be doing”.
This includes having adequate supplies of hand sanitiser, keeping contact between drivers and passengers to a minimum and encouraging the use of contactless payments.
She added that PHE guidance in relation to transport workers “is going to be refreshed very shortly”.
Mr Nur, who worked for HCT Group and drove the 394 bus between Islington and Hackney, was said to be in good health before he died.
HCT Group said he had been suffering with symptoms for several days and had recently been admitted into hospital.
The firm said it “takes the safety of all its colleagues very seriously” and has “put in place a variety of measures to protect our staff as they deliver essential transport services”.
The company added: “PPE materials are in short supply. Colleagues are operating a permanent search – with other parts of the Group sharing both what stocks we have and intelligence on which suppliers have stock.”
Paying tribute to him, Mr Nur’s wife said: “He was a man of honour. He was kind, friendly and wise. He was the rock of the family. He was loyal and hardworking. There’s no words that can explain how amazing he was.
“We miss him so much and wish that more was done to keep him safe. He was a hero.”