Why people from ethnic communities are worst affected by coronavirus in UK

New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Apr 23, 2020, 07:09 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The first ten doctors to die in the UK from COVID-19 were all from these communities.

By: Anila Chowdhry

The notion that coronavirus does not discriminate is being debunked by new evidence that Asian, Black and minority ethnic groups are in fact being disproportionally affected.

In the United Kingdom, more than a third of people who tested positive for coronavirus when they died were from Asian, black and minority ethnic groups, according to new data by National Health Service (NHS) of England.

As per the figures, 13,918 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 at time of death by April 17, 16.2 per cent were from Asian, black and minority ethnic groups. The statistics also showed that people of Indian heritage were the most affected.

Although it is unclear why these communities are so highly affected, but various reasons have been suggested by the experts including that people from these ethnic minorities are more likely to be in frontline jobs like NHS, care workers or bus drivers which puts them at a greater risk of getting the infection.

According to a report, over 40% of doctors and 20% of nurses are from Asian, black and ethnic backgrounds in the UK. The first ten doctors to die in the UK from COVID-19 were all from these communities.

Among the various other reason, "a socio-economical factor also plays a role in putting these communities at high risk of coronavirus infection," Doctor Hina Shahid told WION.

"Data shows ethnic communities experience a high level of unemployment and are more likely to be in jobs that have a higher risk. They also suffer from long working hours, and other issues like poor income and overcrowded housing; all these factors make it difficult for people to actually observe self-distancing and self-isolation," Dr Hina said. 

"There are households in ethnic minority communities, they tend to be more multi-generational. So you will have people who are older and more at risk of getting sicker living with younger people who may be bringing home the infection".

Discrimination is also among the important factors which make these ethnic minority communities more prone to getting infected.

She also said that issues like ethnic minorities facing difficulties in access to healthcare also put them at higher risk of infection.

"Before coronavirus, we know that people with ethnic background face barriers to accessing healthcare due to which when they actually visit a hospital they are already sicker." 

To combat some of those socio-economic and cultural barriers, some British-Asian celebrities have joined forces to create a video appeal aimed at promoting safety measures within the minority communities during the pandemic.

The three-minute video features stars of music, TV and media like Sanjeev Bhaskar, comedian Meera Syal, naughty boy, Adil Ray OBE, Saira Khan, Shivani Ghai and one of the organisers of the video, Adil.

Meanwhile, the British government has launched a review to look into why people from Asian, black and ethnic groups have been disproportionately affected the coronavirus.

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