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Bus drivers with covid symptoms still go to work as sick pay is so low

EXCLUSIVE: Bus drivers are told they WILL get full sick pay from now on… after they continue to work with covid-19 symptoms because of money fears

  • Drivers with families have been getting as little as £153.32 per week sick pay
  • Many have carried on working because they could not afford to self-isolate
  • Fourteen transport workers have died after contracting covid-19 so far
  • There are fears that the buses are acting as incubators for the disease
  • After being questioned by MailOnline, Transport for London (TfL) told all London’s private bus operators to offer full sick pay
  • But drivers remain sceptical about whether their bosses will take heed
  • It comes as further videos and photographs of ‘filthy’ buses emerge 

Bus drivers have been told that they will now get full sick pay after many went to work with covid-19 symptoms because of money fears, MailOnline can reveal.

Hardworking drivers with families have been getting as little as £153.32 per week, forcing them to choose between self-isolating and putting food on the table.

Typical sick pay rates should be between £300 and £500 per week, depending on length of service. But in practice, many get far lower sums. 

Fourteen transport workers have died in London after contracting covid-19 so far, including eight bus drivers.

There are concerns that the buses, which are used by NHS nurses and other keyworkers, are acting as incubators for the disease which has been spreading rapidly in the capital.

After being questioned by MailOnline last night, Transport for London (TfL) wrote urgently to all London’s private bus operators, telling them to pay full sick pay.

But many transport workers fear that this has come too late. ‘The culture needs to change,’ one said. ‘They’re used to treating us like dirt and they won’t stop overnight.’

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A bus driver wears a medical mask as a precaution, as MailOnline reveals that many are going to work even though they have covid-19 symptoms because they are getting low sick pay

Bus driver Emeka Nyack, 36, right, who died of coronavirus after raising concerns about the filthy state of his bus, with his son Makiah, seven


Bus drivers Mohammed Nehman, left, and Nadir Nur, right, both died of covid-19

Speaking anonymously, a driver who has been employed by Metroline in north and west London for five years said he had been forced to work with a cough.

‘I had to self-isolate last week because my son had a chest infection,’ he said. 

‘At first, my manager put it down as unpaid leave because I didn’t have the symptoms myself yet.

‘We had a big row and in the end I got £153 for the week. I haven’t been able to pay the rent and I’m getting threatening phone calls.

‘Bus drivers live hand-to-mouth as it is. Now we’re pretty much broke. I’ve got three children and they’re eating me out of house and home.

‘Now I’m coughing, but I’ve got to just work through it. I’m terrified that if I get too ill to work, what that would mean in terms of money for my family.’

Metroline said that the way the employee was treated was a mistake, but other drivers at the company said they had had similar experiences.

One told MailOnline that he had decided to use his holiday allowance when he was unwell, as the rates of sick pay were so bad. 

‘They’re pushing us to work, that’s the biggest problem,’ he said. ‘Drivers are making that decision: do I go to work or don’t I?

‘Nine times out of 10 we go, because there’s no alternative. We are too scared about losing money.’

A Metroline spokesman claimed that no driver should be forced to work if they have symptoms, adding that ‘anyone with symptoms should self-isolate and will receive full sick pay’.

‘No member of our team will face financial hardship as a result of shielding on the recommendation of Government or a GP,’ the spokesman said.

Any drivers who have been offered low sick pay by their manager, or are being forced to self-isolate without pay, should complain to Human Resources, he added. 


Empty soap dispensers and overflowing bins were filmed by a driver at the depot in Southall, London, leaving bus drivers with little opportunity to practise safe hygiene

Taken by a bus driver this morning before his shift commenced, this picture shows a filthy bus


More pictures show unidentified stains on a bus before it was put into use this morning, after it should have been deep cleaned

A driver working for Abellio, which operates buses in west London, said: ‘I told my boss I was feeling ill and I wanted to see a doctor, but he said it was nothing but a minor cough.

‘We only get between £50 and £150 per week sick pay, so I’m just having to work through it.’

He added: ‘The only thing they care about is getting the buses out, so they put us in the firing line. The managers are all hiding at home, leaving us on the front line.

‘They pay us the bare minimum, whatever they think they can get away with. They’ve got us by the balls.’

When questioned by MailOnline, Tom Cunnington, TfL’s Head of Bus Business Development, said: 

‘We have today written to all of London’s bus operators urging them to do the right thing by vulnerable employees and, like TfL, provide sufficient financial support so that they do not have to come to work.

‘This is to ensure that these drivers don’t feel forced to attend work for financial reasons when they shouldn’t.’

It comes as the row over dirty buses continues, with drivers taking to social media to post pictures of their grimy vehicles.

MailOnline has obtained videos of the staff facilities in the bus depot in Southall, west London, which has no soap, toilet paper or hand towels. The bin was seen overflowing and the lavatory had apparently not been cleaned.

An Abellio spokesman said that the company was ‘disappointed’ that it did not meet its normal ‘housekeeping standards’ on this occasion.

‘We are increasing checks on these facilities and have asked staff to notify a manager or supervisor if there are any hygiene issues,’ he said.

But drivers from the same depot have also passed MailOnline videos and pictures of apparently filthy buses. All were taken at the start of each shift, when the vehicles should have been cleaned.

‘There are three or four cleaners dealing with 50 or 60 buses,’ one driver said. ‘They don’t have the time to deep clean them.

‘The Mayor of London has promised that buses are being deep cleaned, but we haven’t seen that happening on the ground.’

TfL’s Head of Bus Business Development claimed that although the buses were still soiled by liquids and rubbish, and had apparently not been cleaned, they had been treated with anti-virus spray that made them safe.

He said: ‘Every single bus is cleaned before it enters service each day, in addition to daily applications of anti-viral fluid. We’ve been very clear with operators that this must happen, and it is happening.

‘It is the anti-viral detergent fluid that provides the protection from coronavirus rather than the regular sweeping and litter picking on buses. 

‘Sadly, there may be occasions when litter or marks are left on a bus while it is in service, but if passengers and drivers report anything they see it can be dealt with as soon as possible.’


Grime and sticky stains were seen this morning on the floor of the bus by the driver’s cab and the passenger doors after the vehicle was supposedly deep cleaned

Mother makes a desperate plea for public transport workers to be adequately protected after son’s death

A mother has made a desperate plea for public transport workers to be adequately protected following the death of her son.

Emeka Nyack Ihenacho is one of nine bus drivers who have lost their lives to coronavirus in the UK.

The 36-year-old worked in Holloway, north London, for bus company Metroline, which has also confirmed the deaths of two more employees.

Emeka Nyack, 36, sits in the cab of a bus with his son, Makiah, who is now seven years old

Mr Ihenacho’s mother, Anne Nyack, criticised London Mayor Sadiq Khan, saying bus drivers are at risk of catching Covid-19 due to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, she said: ‘He needs to get out there and have a look at the buses and see what condition the drivers are operating in. They are at risk, my son was at risk, sadly he died.’

She said her son had spoken to his partner and his sister about the ‘dirty’ conditions on the buses.

Ms Nyack pleaded with Mr Khan to provide better protection for transport workers and asked him to visit the families of those who have died.

She said of her son: ‘He was given hand sanitiser – he had no mask, no gloves, nothing. Plus, he was asthmatic, he was open to the elements.

‘I don’t want a letter or a telephone call, I want him (Mr Khan) to see the real faces of the tragedy, which is me and all the other bus drivers that have lost their lives.’

In an emotional tribute, a tearful Ms Nyack described her son as ‘a lovely man with a heart of gold’.

‘He would help anybody,’ she said. ‘He was full of laughter and always a joker, he had a nickname for all of us.’ 

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Lifestyle

7 Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms Every Woman Should Know About

With 1.3 million Americans living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you probably know someone who has the condition. Specifically, you probably know a woman living with RA, given that we are up to three times more likely to have it than men. And the fact that women (still) handle more household tasks than men — things like bending down to clean or pick up dirty laundry, or standing while washing dishes — only makes matters worse, because you’re never quite sure if your achy joints are caused by your everyday activities, or are a sign of something more serious.

My mother lived with RA for close to 40 years after she was diagnosed with it in her 30s. This is normal — RA typically affects people between the ages of 30 and 60. I grew up constantly hearing about arthritis (or “Arthur Itis” as my grandmother — who had osteoarthritis — would say) and didn’t really understand it beyond the fact that sometimes my mother would be so sore that she wasn’t able to play with us. She actually was diagnosed with RA after taking her mother to her rheumatologist appointment. After listing some of her symptoms, the doctor brought her back in for an official screening. Up until this point, she had assumed that the stiffness, swelling and pain in her joints was the result of being a busy mom.

If, at some point, you’ve wondered whether the discomfort you’re experiencing was just the regular wear and tear on your body or the signs of something more serious, you’re not alone. In fact, RA isn’t caused by overuse of joints — that’s osteoarthritis. RA is actually the result of an autoimmune disorder, though we don’t yet know precisely what causes it. And as of now, there is no cure for RA. So what RA symptoms women should be on the lookout for? SheKnows spoke with experts to find out, as well as when to talk to your doctor about them.

Pain, stiffness and swelling in and around your joints

The symptoms of RA depend, to some extent, on how far the condition has progressed. According to Dr. Kevin Deane, a rheumatologist with UCHealth Rheumatology Clinic-Anschutz Medical Campus, as well as an associate professor of medicine and the William P. Arend Chair for Rheumatology Research at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, the most common symptoms at the onset of RA are pain, stiffness and a feeling of swelling in and around the joints. “Often these symptoms are worse in the morning after sleep, get better with movement and are symmetric — i.e. fairly equal on both sides of the body. For example, in the right and left hand,” he tells SheKnows. “For many people, the first joints involved in RA are the joints in the fingers and wrists, although many other joints can also be involved.”

The primary areas affected by RA joint inflammation are:

  • Hands (fingers and knuckles)
  • Wrists
  • Elbows
  • Shoulders
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Ankles
  • Toes

Symmetrical symptoms

If you’ve noticed that you have the same type of pain or discomfort at the same place on both sides of your body, it could be a sign of RA, according to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network. However, the levels of pain on different sides of your body aren’t necessarily going to be the same. So if both of your shoulders hurt, the pain in your left shoulder may be significantly worse.

Flu-like symptoms

RA can also cause flu-like symptoms — likely a result of the elevations of the body’s inflammation, according to Deane. These include the usual suspects like body aches, fatigue and a low-grade temperature. Of course, it could also be the actual flu, but if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms along with joint pain, swelling or stiffness, it may be time to talk to a doctor.

Joint redness and warmth

In addition to being painful, stiff or swollen, the joints of someone with RA could also look red in appearance and feel warm to the touch, according to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network. The redness is a result of the widening of the skin’s capillaries caused by inflammation within the joint capsule, making the joints more visible. It’s possible to notice warmth around your joints without the redness, so it’s important to pay attention to all aspects of your symptoms. 

Deformed joints

One of the most noticeable symptoms of RA are deformed joints. According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, people with RA could develop deformed joints in their hands and/or feet. RA-induced deformities are typically found in the metacarpophalangeal joints (MCP joints) and proximal interphalangeal joints (PIP joints) — the small joints that allow your fingers to bend. My mother had a deformity in her pointer finger, which prompted many children over the years to ask about her “witch’s finger.” Deformities could also form in a person’s elbows and toes (like hammer toe). 

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Though we usually associate carpal tunnel syndrome with typing too much, it can also be a symptom of RA, according to Dr. Giuseppe Aragona, a family medicine physician at Prescription Doctor. The  Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center notes that carpal tunnel syndrome sometimes occurs in patients with RA as a result of compression of a peripheral nerve by inflamed edematous tissue.

Shortness of breath

Believe it or not, RA can also be behind a variety of lung conditions that makes it difficult to breathe. For example, Aragona says that this includes pleurisy, which he describes as “a sharp pain in the chest, caused by inflammation in the lungs.” And it doesn’t end there. According to the Mayo Clinic, sometimes the lung symptoms show up before the achy joints, and can take the form of scarring within the lungs, lung nodules or a small airway obstruction. If you’re experiencing any unexplained breathing problems, you’re going to want to talk to your doctor about it ASAP.

When to see your doctor

Because so many of the symptoms associated with RA could be caused by something else, it can make it tricky to diagnose, as well as make it difficult to know when you need to talk to a doctor about them. 

“Not every ache and pain in and around the joints is RA, as there are multiple things that can cause those symptoms ranging from things like over-exercise, sprains or [other] forms of arthritis such as ‘osteoarthritis,’” Deane explains. “Not all of these need immediate medical attention and unfortunately, telling each of these types of things apart can be difficult.”

However, Deane does point out that a general rule regarding RA is that if someone has pain, stiffness and swelling in and around their joints that lasts for more than three to five days — especially if those symptoms are on both sides of their body and/or are worse in the morning —  then it is reasonable to talk with their health care provider. At least that way a health care provider can ask more questions to help sort out what may be going on, and perhaps most importantly, examine the joints to see if signs of inflammation are present. In addition, a health care provider can take X-rays and perform blood tests that can help make a diagnosis of RA, or identify other types of arthritis. In most cases, if it does appear to be RA, a person will be referred to a rheumatologist to confirm the diagnosis and then start specialized treatment. 

“The health-care field is increasingly aware, identifying RA early and starting appropriate treatment [that] can avoid joint damage and keep an individual as healthy as possible,” Deane says. “As such, in general, health care providers aim to identify someone with RA within a few weeks of onset of their symptoms.” 

The bottom line is that you should keep an eye out for these symptoms — including those that are less obvious — and talk to your doctor if you think something’s up.

Have rheumatoid arthritis? Here are 8 products other women with RA swear by to cope with their symptoms.






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World News

The 3 mild coronavirus symptoms that can predict if you will suffer severe lung disease – The Sun

MOST people who contract coronavirus won't need any extra help – and will see their symptoms settle within a week. 

However, for an estimated one in five people with the illness, hospital care will prove necessary and they may go on to develop a more severe lung condition.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

In particular, a high temperature and a new, continuous cough are the two main symptoms of coronavirus that the NHS lists on its website.

However, doctors have now discovered three different, mild symptoms that patients who become more severely ill with Covid-19 tend to show.

And they believe that these signs, taken together, are strong predictors of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

According to the NHS, this is a life-threatening condition where the lungs can't provide the body's vital organs with enough oxygen.

Researchers at New York University (NYU) made the discovery by analysing records from 53 hospitalised patients in Wenzhou, China.

Most of the participants were in their 30s or 40s, and nearly two-thirds were men.

Megan Coffee, an infectious-disease clinician and lead author of the study, told Business Insider that they carried out the study to "assist doctors in that first stage to be able to identify who may become sick of the many mild cases."

The three signs that they found in those with severe lung disease were…

1. An increase in a liver enzyme

The first factor was a slight increase in an enzyme known as alanine aminotransferase (ALT).

ALT is normally found inside liver cells, however, when your liver is damaged or inflamed, ALT can be released into your bloodstream.

High levels of ALT in a person’s blood can signal the presence of liver damage or inflammation.

2. Deep muscle aches

The second factor was deep muscle aches, known clinically as myalgia.

Myalgia can involve ligaments, tendons and fascia, the soft tissues that connect muscles, bones and organs.

According to the World Health Organization, about 15 per cent of all coronavirus patients experienced body aches or joint pain.

The aches are triggered by chemicals called cytokines – which the body releases while responding to the infection.

3. More haemoglobin

The third factor was higher levels of haemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen through the blood.

In patients severely ill with coronavirus, the red blood cell production increases to make up for chronically low blood oxygen levels due to poor lung function.

The researchers who carried out the study say that all three of these symptoms must be present for someone to have an early risk of severe lung disease.

On their own, the three mild symptoms don’t normally set off alarm bells for medics, they claimed.

The experts added that determining whether a patient is likely to get worse could help hospitals decide which cases to monitor.

"Hospitals are just so overstretched that if someone doesn’t immediately need oxygen they may not be able to find a place for them," Coffee said. "But they might be able to say, ‘You really need to check back in tomorrow'."

Doctors could then treat a patient before their case becomes critical, lessening the burden on the NHS.

In particular, the NHS is facing an increasing amount of pressure with a lack of ­ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing kits.

Anasse Bari, a clinical assistant professor at NYU who co-authored the study, added: "We’re not by any means trying to replace doctors’ decisions.

"We just want to arm doctors with tools to see quickly if this is a severe case and predict outcomes."

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On average, patients in the NYU study were admitted to the hospital three days after their symptoms started.

Most had a temperature and a dry cough, although about a third developed a wet cough.

Less than a quarter were wheezing or had difficulty breathing – and only a few had body aches, a sore throat, or diarrhoea.

The study found that most patients developed mild symptoms at first.

In severe cases, symptoms like shortness of breath, pneumonia, and ARDS typically appeared five to eight days into the illness.

About 88 per cent of patients had white patches, called “ground glass,” on their CT scans, signalling the presence of fluid in their lungs.

But only five – all men – developed severe lung disease.

Data from China, South Korea, and Italy suggests that more men than women are dying of Covid-19.

Two possible explanations is that men report higher rates of smoking and also have higher rates of preexisting conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

But the NYU researchers determined that gender wasn’t a strong predictor of severe lung disease.

“Even though everyone who had ARDS was male, most of the men in the study did not develop ARDS,” Coffee said.

The researchers also found that age wasn’t a strong warning sign either, even though the Covid-19 death rate is significantly higher among older people.

This comes after it was revealed yesterday that a 13-year-old boy had become Britain's youngest coronavirus victim.

Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab died in King's College Hospital in London on Monday after testing positive for the deadly disease.

Tragically, his mum and six siblings were not able to be by his side in his final moments because of the contagiousness of the killer virus.

The latest figures from the Department of Health reveal 381 people have died in 24 hours after a rise of 180 deaths in the same time period yesterday.

In England, the NHS confirmed the death rate had also more than doubled from 159 on Monday to 367  in the biggest 24-hour leap so far.

The latest victims were aged between 19 and 98 – with 28 having no previous medical conditions – bringing the total death toll in the country to 1,651.

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World News

Is a sore throat a symptom of coronavirus? – The Sun

CORONAVIRUS is continuing its deadly spread and people are on high alert for symptoms that could mean infection.

More than 472,760 people have been struck down by the illness across the world and experts are beginning to understand more about its symptoms.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

Is a sore throat a symptom of coronavirus?

A sore throat may be a warning sign of a coronavirus infection.

The most common symptoms are fever, tiredness and a dry cough.

But some patients may also have a runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion and aches and pains or diarrhoea.

What should I do if I have a sore throat and a fever or cough?

If you live alone and develop symptoms it is recommended to stay at home for seven days after symptoms began.

If you live with others, everyone in the house must stay at home and not leave for 14 days.

Studies show that people have the coronavirus without symptoms for five days on average.

What should I do if I only have a sore throat?

If you are worried about symptoms you can go through the NHS 111 online service.

To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

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What are the other symptoms of coronavirus?

A high temperature is a common symptom. This means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back, you do not need to measure your temperature with a thermometer.

A new, continuous cough is also a symptom. This means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.

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