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UK News

Bishop calls on Government to tackle disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minorities

by Tola Mbakwe

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has said the UK Government should treat the effects coronavirus has on ethnic groups as matter of urgency. 

New analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests Black men and women are more than four times more likely to die a coronavirus-related death than white people, 

Black males in England and Wales are 4.2 times more likely, while black women are 4.3 times more likely to die after contracting the virus, after accounting for age.

People of Bangladeshi and Pakistani, Indian, and mixed ethnicities also had an increased risk of death involving Covid-19 compared with those of white ethnicity, the ONS found.

The analysis looked at how coronavirus has affected different ethnic groups from 2nd March to 10th April, registered by 17th April.
As ethnicity is not recorded on death certificates, the ONS linked these to the 2011 Census which includes self-reported ethnicity.

While health leaders have said Public Health England will review how different factors, such as ethnicity, obesity and geographical location that may influence the effects of the virus, the Church said more must be done.

"Public Health England's inquiry is much needed, and our Church will be engaging with it," said said Rt Rev Paul McAleenan, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster. 
"However, an inquiry alone is not enough. The government needs urgently to tackle the known structural inequalities that have left some communities paying such a high price. 

We also need to recognise the disproportionate sacrifice made by people from minority backgrounds in frontline services."

"This health crisis presents our society with serious questions of racial justice. Pope Francis has called on the Church to help tackle "intolerance, discrimination or exclusion, that seriously undermine the dignity of those involved as well as their fundamental rights, including the very right to life". His words are especially resonant amid the challenges we face today about racial discrimination in our society."

NHS England has suggested that some ethnic groups may be "over-represented in public-facing occupations" and therefore more likely to be infected.

The ONS plans to examine the link between occupation and risk.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for ethnicity to be recorded on death certificates so the true toll on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities is not missed.

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