Coronavirus: Ethnic minorities ‘over-exposed’ to Covid-19

By | August 6, 2020

People from ethnic minority backgrounds in Britain “face greater barriers” when trying to protect themselves from coronavirus, according to a report.

The Runnymede Trust, a race equality think-tank, said Bangladeshi and black African people were most vulnerable.

Jobs, households and using public transport are all said to be risk factors.

The government said it is working to help ethnic minorities, who have been disproportionately harmed by Covid-19.

There is growing evidence that people from those communities are at greater risk from the virus.

The Runnymede Trust also warned important public safety messages aimed at reducing transmission were currently not reaching all black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

The survey of 2,585 adults in Great Britain, including 750 from BAME backgrounds, suggests ethnic minorities are “over-exposed” because they are more likely to live in multigenerational households, which can reduce the ability to self-isolate and shield from the virus.

Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black African groups are said to be the most likely to live in “overcrowded housing”.

And more than a quarter of people from BAME backgrounds classified themselves as a “key worker” (28%), compared with 23% of white British people questioned in the same survey.

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‘We are not in the same boat’

BAME key workers were also more likely to report feeling as if they had faced additional risks through not having adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

The survey found those from ethnic minority backgrounds were also more likely to say they had used public transport during lockdown – which could increase the chance of transmission because they are enclosed spaces.

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The Runnymede Trust said all these factors helped to explain why certain parts of society had been hardest hit during the pandemic.

“While we have all faced the same storm, we are not in the same boat.” said Dr Zubaida Haque, interim director of the trust.

“Our findings explain why we are seeing outbreaks in places like Leicester, densely populated areas with multigenerational households. Many people are also struggling to pay bills so have to leave their homes to work.

“Temporary housing and financial support should be made available to facilitate those who need to self-isolate.”

The report also found ethnic minorities are less likely to know about government messaging like “Stay Home” and economic measures like the furlough scheme.

It recommends the NHS Test and Trace system needs to be better at reaching the most vulnerable, including working closer with local authorities who already have trusted relationships with their communities.

A statement from the Department for Health said: “We know that Covid-19 has had a disproportionate effect on people from Bame backgrounds, and, following the findings of the Public Health England report, the equalities minister is now taking forward vital work to tackle these disparities and protect our most vulnerable communities from the impact of the virus.”

BBC News – Health