The government has been urged to act on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities, following the publication of another report on the matter.
Public Health England published a report yesterday (16 June), which concluded that there is ‘clear evidence that COVID-19 does not affect all population groups equally’. The report also stated that the pandemic ‘exposed and exacerbated longstanding inequalities affecting BAME groups in the UK’.
‘Data from the ONS and the PHE analysis confirmed the strong association between economic disadvantage and COVID-19 diagnoses, incidence and severe disease,’ the report states.
‘Economic disadvantage is also strongly associated with the prevalence of smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and their cardio-metabolic complications, which all increase the risk of disease severity.’
Following the publication of the report, there were renewed calls for the government to take action.
‘This report provides further evidence of the disproportionate impact the virus is having on people from BME communities,’ said NHS Confederation chief executive, Niall Dickson.
‘There are several reasons behind this as well as much we still do not know, but that must not detract from the need for decisive action.
‘In particular, we have been calling for better data collection and for ethnicity data to be recorded on death certificates and so we are glad to see these recommendations being put to the equalities minister,’ he added.
‘Our members take this issue very seriously. They have seen the effect the virus has had, and continues to have, on both their staff and patients.’
While the general secretary of the trade union Unison, Dave Prentis said the government must act now.
‘The pandemic has brought home just how many frontline care and health employees are from Black communities. They’ve suffered a heavy toll and need better protecting now, before the almost inevitable second Covid spike,’ said Mr Prentis.
‘The government’s failure to release the PHE data and recommendations together was a huge mistake. It’s caused further mistrust and damage to the Black community at a time when people need reassurance, not dither, delay and excuses.
‘People will also want to see exactly how structural and institutional racism in all areas of employment, housing, education and every other aspect of life in the UK are to be eradicated.’
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