Calls for change as report shows extent of Covid-19 risk to BAME people

Phanuel Mutumburi, business and operations director for Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equalit

Phanuel Mutumburi, business and operations director for Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Race campaign leaders have said ‘the time for action is now’ after a public health review shows that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) residents are more likely to die from coronavirus.

The new government report which looks at risk factors for coronavirus sufferers was released by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in Parliament today.

The study, from Public Health England (PHE), found that BAME individuals have a much higher risk of death than white people, as do those from poorer backgrounds, men and anyone who is obese or suffering from diabetes.

Phanuel Mutumburi, business and operations director for Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality said: “When you look at communities which are in the lower rungs in terms of income, of poverty and in terms of housing, you see that BAME people are likely to be at risk of coronavirus.

“They also experience things like discrimination which translates into how they engage with our health system.

“The only surprising thing for us is that we have been talking about this for years and years and we hope in three, four or five years time we won’t be having a similar conversation again.”

The report was released under pressure from the opposition after a Whitehall source told Sky News that it was delayed due to “worries” around “current global events”.

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Announcing the review, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said coronavirus targets people in an “unequal and disproportionate way”.

He said: “Black lives matter, as do those of the poorest areas of our country which have worse health outcomes and we need to make sure all of these considerations are taken into account, and action is taken to level-up the health outcomes of people across this country.”

However, Mr Mutumburi said the excuse was “shocking” but saw the announcement as an opportunity to bring the issue to the public’s attention.

He said: “As horrible as it sounds this is an opportunity for us to look at ourselves and say what sort of society to we want to be.

“If we want to be the type of society where everyone has the same opportunities then the time for action is now. We can not be talking about this five years from now.”

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