70 percent of health workers who died of coronavirus in UK are blacks, other ethnic minorities
London, April 22, 2020 (AltAfrica)-A review is underway by UK government into why people from black and other minority ethnic background appear to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19, Sky News understands.
It follows calls for the government to investigate the number of deaths of people from the BAME community and those working for the NHS since the coronavirus pandemic.
Sky News analysis found that of the 54 front line health and social care workers in England and Wales that have died because of COVID-19, 37, representing 70% of them were black or from an ethnic minority
Available data also indicate that four of the five health trusts in England that have recorded the most deaths so far cover areas with some of the highest combined South Asian and black populations.
Many of these are in London and the West Midlands which together account for almost half of all deaths in England.
Despite only accounting for 13% of the population in England and Wales, 44% of all NHS doctors and 24% of nurses are from a BAME background.
Early research from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) found that last week 34% of critically ill coronavirus patients in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were from black or minority ethnic backgrounds.
According to the 2011 census, just 14% of the population is from those backgrounds.
The research was based on 3,300 patients from intensive care units.
Nadir Nur, a 48-year-old bus driver from London, is one of the key workers to have died after contracting coronavirus.
One of his nine children, Yusuf, told Sky News he was a “hardworking, strong” man.
“It’s incredibly heart-breaking to have my dad taken away at such a young age because he won’t ever get to see his grandchildren or ever see any of us getting married,” said Yusuf.
“We won’t be able to have any other memories like go on holidays again or gather for Eid. There’s a big hole that’s been left for any of these things.”
He added: “It’s horrible to think that he’s buried right now, none of it really does feel real. I couldn’t even go to the funeral, or see his face for one last time.”
Yusuf said his father wasn’t given any PPE and the family thinks he contracted the virus on his busy route which took people to the hospital.
“I knew that he was definitely worried about it all and I knew that, despite that, he would still carry on doing his job because it’s his job. He was always hardworking and he was strong, and he would never run away and hide from it all.
Downing Street has confirmed the review will get under way.
It will be led by the NHS and Public Health England along with other organisations, including the British Medical Association.
Asked about the Sky News data during the daily Downing Street news conference, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Absolutely we’re on the side of anyone. This virus doesn’t discriminate but we want to follow analysis of the data that you’ve described.”
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, added: “It’s critical that we find out which groups are most at risk so we can help to protect them. Three things are clear and ethnicity is less clear. The three things that are clear are age, people who’ve got more than one other disease and male sex is a clear risk factor.
“Being a member of an ethnic minority group is less clear. I’ve had discussions with scientists about this in terms of trying to tease this apart today.
“Also, looking very specifically at healthcare workers with leaders of the NHS. This is something we’re very keen to get extremely clear. We’ve asked PHE to look at this in some detail and then what we really want, if we see any signal at all, we want to then know what next to do about it to minimise risk.
“This is not yet clear in terms of ethnic minorities.”
In reaction to the government’s decision to carry out a review, the council chair of the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: “BAME deaths don’t just happen in hospitals, they are prevalent in the community too. It’s incredibly important that the government looks at the data and understands why this is happening.
“In the meantime, they need to put in place specific measures to address this disproportionate number of deaths which is incredibly shocking and sad to see.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, there has also been alarm over the growing number of coronavirus deaths among African-American communities across the US.
Fresh data suggested that people who are black or hispanic in the US are twice as likely to die from COVID-19.
There are fears that pre-existing health inequalities are making people from minority communities more likely to lose their lives.
Aggressive public health campaigns have been launched in cities including Chicago, where black people accounted for 72% of deaths from COVID-19 complications and 52% of positive tests, despite making up only 30% of the population.