A bus driver in London has become the latest casualty of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unite said Kofi Opoku, who was based in Croydon, south London, died earlier this week.

The union said bus driver safety is particularly sensitive as during the height of the pandemic earlier this year, male London bus drivers were the profession at greatest risk of dying from Covid-19, with at least 29 succumbing to the disease.

Unite, which represents more than 20,000 London bus workers, has called for improvements to vehicle safety to better protect drivers and passengers as the virus continues to spread.

Unite said it wants to ensure all screens and seals are properly installed, health and safety reps are stood down from normal duties to monitor safety in garages, and for a review and enhancement of cleaning regimes.

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Unite wants better safety for passengers and drivers
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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Unite officer John Murphy said: “The death of Kofi Opoku is a terrible reminder of the horrible human cost of Covid-19. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

“With infection rates rising swiftly and the knowledge we have gained from the first wave, it is absolutely essential that all these safety measures are introduced to protect bus drivers and their passengers.

“During the first lockdown London bus drivers played a vital role in keeping the capital moving, and for that too many paid the ultimate price.

“Significant safety procedures have been already introduced, but action needs to be taken to reinforce those measures.

“We simply do not have time on our side. We need these measures to be introduced immediately to reduce the risk of infections and to save lives.”

Meanwhile Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce further support for jobs and businesses that are affected by coronavirus shutdowns amid calls to help the hardest-hit industries and regions.

Mr Sunak will detail “the next stage” of the Jobs Support Scheme on Friday, ahead of new restrictions expected for the hospitality sector.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce further support for jobs and businesses
(Image: PA)

Cities in northern England and other areas suffering a surge in Covid-19 cases may have pubs and restaurants temporarily closed to combat the spread of the virus.

Regional leaders and unions have been calling for fresh financial support to prevent further layoffs when new restrictions are imposed.

A Treasury spokeswoman said: “The Chancellor will be setting out the next stage of the Job Support Scheme later today that will protect jobs and provide a safety net for those businesses that may have to close in the coming weeks and months.”



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