A mixed-methods approach to elucidate SARS-CoV-2 transmission routes and clustering in outbreaks in native workers and labour migrants in the fruit and vegetable packaging industry in South Holland, the Netherlands, May to July 2020

Laura H. Boogaard*, Reina S. Sikkema, Janko H.G.M. van Beek, Henricus J. Brockhoff, Eva Dalebout, Barry de Heus, Sophie L. Niemansburg, David F. Nieuwenhuijse, Danny Stougje, Ellen Verspui, Bas B. Oude Munnink, Marion P.G. Koopmans, Ewout B. Fanoy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: To obtain insight into SARS-CoV-2 clustering and transmission routes during outbreaks in the predominantly migrant workforce of the fruit and vegetable packaging industry of South Holland, the Netherlands, May to July 2020. Design: This mixed-methods study applied direct observation and interviews, epidemiologic investigation, source and contact data analysis and whole-genome sequencing. Results: We detected 46 SARS-CoV-2 cases and 4 outbreaks with a proportional representation of labour migrant and native workers in 6 unrelated facilities. Complete viral genome sequences revealed at least 3 clusters of native workers and labour migrants, 2 within and 1 between facilities. On-site inspections found adequate implementation of preventative measures to which both native workers and labour migrants showed suboptimal adherence. Being a labour migrant was associated with living in shared housing, but not with more contacts or different sources. Conclusions: The fruit and vegetable packaging industry gave the impression of sufficient preparedness and control. Suboptimal adherence to the facilities’ preventative guidelines could have facilitated work floor transmission. Community and household transmission are likely to have contributed to outbreaks. We encourage further research into risk factors for transmission in labour migrants and application of these insights into targeted public health policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-32
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume109
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

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