Theme 1: Outbreak investigations

Theme 1 of the PROTECT study includes rapid on-the-ground investigations (known as the COVID-OUT study) of COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces, as well as comprehensive analysis of outbreak data collected by UK Health Security Agency and regulatory bodies.

The aim is to identify outbreak causes and common risk factors, a better understanding of which will help prevent and control further outbreaks as the UK unlocks.

Working alongside active public health outbreak investigations, COVID-OUT researchers collect additional data including COVID-19 swabs and antibody tests, surface wipe samples, and questionnaires and observations on workers’ activities, commuting routes, ventilation, hygiene and risk management practices.

This information is analysed and fed into the virus modelling in Theme 2 and the sector-specific studies in Theme 3 of PROTECT to help inform government policy. It is also fed back to participating workplaces in the form of tailored risk assessments and practical recommendations to help prevent transmission.

Collaborating with analysts from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Office for National Statistics, Theme 1 researchers are also developing models to estimate the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces based on socio-demographic, environmental and other factors.

Theme team

Theme leads: Dr Yiqun Chen and Dr Derek Morgan, Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Other partners:

  • UK Health Security Agency
  • The University of Manchester
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Study Documents including publications


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