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Discrimination a ‘key factor’ behind the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups

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BAME patients have seen greater mortality BAME patients have seen greater mortality from COVID

There is an association between belonging to some ethnic groups and the likelihood of testing positive and dying with COVID-19, a review by Public Health England (PHE) has found.

The review found that the highest age standardised diagnosis rates of COVID-19 per 100,000 population were in people of Black ethnic groups (486 in females and 649 in males) and the lowest were in people of White ethnic groups (220 in females and 224 in males).

‘There is clear evidence that COVID-19 is taking a greater toll on people in Black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. Today's important report summarises this evidence, the reasons underpinning it, and the shock and dismay that is being felt in black and minority ethnic communities. COVID-19 is having a disproportionate and detrimental impact, and discrimination is a key factor,’ said Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at the Health Foundation.

‘We welcome Public Health England’s report and their recommendation of a properly funded strategy to tackle the wider circumstances in which people live – including education, job opportunities, working conditions and housing, which shape underlying health and vulnerability to COVID-19.’

According to the review, issues of stigma with COVID-19 were identified as negatively impacting health seeking behaviours. Fear of diagnosis and death from COVID-19 was identified as negatively impacting how BAME groups took up opportunities to get tested and their likelihood of presenting early for treatment and care. For many BAME groups lack of trust of NHS services and health care treatment resulted in their reluctance to seek care on a timely basis, and late presentation with disease.

‘However, the report makes no specific recommendation on tackling entrenched discrimination and racism. Black and minority ethnic communities speak loudly in this report and say discrimination is among the fundamental causes of ill health. They should be listened to,’ added Dr Dixon. ‘We have seen many commissions make recommendations on racial equality in the past. Now is the time for further concrete action, beginning with government.’

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