BAME communities at higher risk of dying from Covid-19

12 June 2020

People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are at a higher risk of dying from Covid-19, a report from Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed.

The risk of dying from Covid-19 is also higher for people living in more deprived areas, and for men. While age remains the biggest risk factor, found the PHE report published on 2 June. 

However the PHE report has been criticised for lacking explanation as to why BAME people have been disproportionately affected. The vital need for clear guidance on making a change has also been highlighted. 

Unite has called for a raft of policies to tackle the ‘systemic failures’ that has led to the disproportionate death toll among the BAME communities and also the poorest groups in society. 
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: ‘This report shines a searing light that reveals the pandemic in the UK is intrinsically linked disproportionately to class and race.
‘These wide disparities are detailed in this data and point to age, race and income and accompanying health inequalities as key determinants as to whom has been the worst affected by Covid-19.
‘This has been amplified among those in undervalued occupations and jobs where zero hours’ contracts and precarious employment are the norm.
‘…these systemic failures need to be tackled urgently and that work should start now.’

When speaking about the PHE report at the daily coronavirus briefing, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said that  ‘much more work’ needed to be done to understand ‘what's driving these disparities’. 

He also said they ‘are absolutely determined to get to the bottom of this and find ways of closing that gap.’ Minister for Equalities Kemi Badenoch will be the person taking this forward, he revealed, working with PHE among others.

Meanwhile, calls for a full independent public inquiry into Covid-19 deaths among people from BAME backgrounds were made back in May. More than 70 prominent figures and faith leaders signed a letter to the prime minister.

The full PHE report Disparities in the risk and outcomes of Covid-19 can be read here

The TUC are currently gathering evidence from BAME workers on their experiences of the pandemic – click here for the survey.
Unite have an equalities checklist to check that all members are safe. The Unite Equalities team is led by their Women’s, BAME, Disabled Members and LGBT+ Committees.

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