It is believed that factors such as housing, pre-existing health conditions, and employment inequalities also play a role in the number of BAME coronavirus cases. Black and ethnic minorities are also more likely to live in ‘overcrowded’ housing with different generations of family members.
A Third Of UK Patients Dying And Critically Ill With COVID-19 Are From Black And Ethnic Minority Groups
According to the latest report on 3,883 patients critically ill with COVID-19 by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre, 13.2% were recorded as “Asian”, 13.7% as “Black” and 5.5% as “Other.” Many of those who have died from these ethnic minority backgrounds are Muslim, but the official statistics based on religion have not yet been released.
Dr Zubaida Haque, Deputy Director of The Runnymede Trust, states this coronavirus pandemic will affect black and ethnic groups differently compared to white British people:
Black and ethnic minority (BAME) groups in the UK are among the poorest socio-economic groups. There are structural inequalities that place BME groups at much higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, as well as experiencing harsher economic impacts from government measures to slow the spread of the virus.’’
It is believed that factors such as housing, pre-existing health conditions, and employment inequalities also play a role in the number of BAME coronavirus cases. Bangladeshis and Pakistanis have much higher rates of heart disease and diabetes. Black and ethnic minorities are also more likely to live in ‘overcrowded’ housing with different generations of family members. According to the latest ethnicity facts and figures from gov.uk, the lowest employment rate is in the combined Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic group at 57%.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also addressed that many of the NHS frontline workers who have died from coronavirus were from ‘minority ethnic backgrounds.’
Senior health figures including Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Head of the British Medical Association, has urged the UK government to investigate why more than one third of patients dying in ICU wards were from BAME communities, after the first 10 doctors in the UK who died from coronavirus were also all BAME:
We have heard the virus does not discriminate between individuals but there’s no doubt there appears to be a manifest disproportionate severity of infection in BAME people and doctors. This has to be addressed – the government must act now.”
Dr Nagpaul said BAME health workers might feel less able to complain about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE.) “BAME doctors often feel bullied and harassed at higher levels compared to their white counterparts,” he added. “They are twice as likely not to raise concerns because of fears of recrimination.”
It seems that regardless of socio-economic backgrounds, people in the BAME community are extremely vulnerable during this coronavirus pandemic. The UK government will need to particularly assess housing and employment inequalities, and thoroughly investigate why so many NHS workers from BAME Muslim communities are dying.