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Number of Bame Covid deaths ‘are linked to racism’

RACISM and social inequality have contributed to the increased risk of black, Asian and minority ethnic — Bame — communities contracting and dying from Covid-19, a report finds.

Historic racism may mean people are discriminated against when it comes to personal protective equipment and are less likely to seek care or demand better protection, according to the Public Health England (PHE) study.

It calls for ‘occupational risk assessment tools’ to reduce exposure for Bame workers, especially those in health and social care roles.

‘Ethnic inequalities in health and wellbeing in the UK existed before Covid-19 and the pandemic has made these disparities more apparent and undoubtedly exacerbated them,’ the report said.

It calls for immediate action in areas such as housing to reduce inequalities and ‘targeted messaging on smoking, obesity and improving management of common conditions including hypertension and diabetes’.

The report also recommends better data collection about ethnicity and religion, a legal requirement for risk assessments to be carried out for Bame workers and culturally sensitive public health messaging.

It warns: ‘If lessons are not learnt from this initial phase of the epidemic, future waves of the disease could again have severe and disproportionate impacts.’ It comes after the government was accused of holding back this second PHE report after a first, which made no recommendations, was published at the start of June.

The British Medical Association has written to health secretary Matt Hancock asking why the recommendations were ‘omitted’.

Shadow justice secretary David Lammy has said it was a ‘scandal’ that the recommendations in the study had been ‘buried’.