Coronavirus: BAME people must be treated like other vulnerable groups, says MP

19 May 2020, 21:44

BAME people have a higher risk of dying from coronavirus in the UK, ONS figures state
BAME people have a higher risk of dying from coronavirus in the UK, ONS figures state. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

A Labour MP has said that BAME people must be treated in the same way other vulnerable groups disproportionately affected by Covid-19 have been.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy has warned the people from BAME communities must not become "fodder for easing the lockdown".

Speaking at a Stand up to Racism (SUTR) event looking at the impact of the government easing lockdown measures on BAME communities, Ms Ribeiro-Addy asserted that when the government realised that certain groups, such as those with underlying health conditions and the elderly were more vulnerable to Covid-19, they were shielded.

However, she argued that the same treatment has not been afforded to BAME people, despite evidence that they are more likely to die from the virus.

Data from the UK Office for National Statistics suggests that black people are more than four times as likely to die from coronavirus as white people, and that a greater risk of death existed even after removing factors such as deprivation or existing health conditions.

Males in the Bangladeshi and Pakistani ethnicity group are 1.8 times more likely to have a coronavirus related death than white males and females 1.6 times more than white women.

Current figures suggest that 28 per cent of coronavirus deaths in the UK have been BAME people.

Quoting the ONS figures, SUTR said that this means between 15,000 and 18,000 BAME people have died so far.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP. Picture: PA

Mr Ribeiro-Addy also said that "in the UK, all of the existing issues with racism have compounded the effects of Covid-19.

"Those being forced to go back to work are disproportionately BAME and often in low paid jobs without adequate PPE.

"BAME people are more likely to be in zero hour contracts and unsafe working conditions and no measures put in place to shield them."

A survey conducted by The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) found 48% of all doctors who responded to its survey were either concerned or very concerned for their health, a figure that rose to 76% among BAME doctors.

Also speaking at the event, Diane Abbott MP said: "BAME people are hit so hard because of sectoral distribution in the labour market.

"BAME people are overrepresented in transport, as care workers, in the NHS and often find themselves at the bottom of the ladder and therefore more exposed to Covid-19.

Diane Abbott MP
Diane Abbott MP. Picture: PA

"There is also the problem of job insecurity. These workers are often on zero hours contracts or are agency workers and do not feel confident to query lack of PPE."

The Prime Minister is being urged to launch an independent public inquiry into the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, which SUTR is supporting.

In a letter to Boris Johnson campaigners have said the only way the "critical" answers needed to explain the impact of coronavirus on BAME communities was an independent inquiry.

More than 70 public figures have signed the letter including author Malorie Blackman, playwright, Kwame Kwei-Armah, and Baroness Doreen Lawrence.

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