We are all living at a very difficult time. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new disease which is life-threatening and there are, as yet, no cures or vaccines.
What is clear is that it affects different groups of people differently and some are at greater risk of dying than others. While the virus doesn’t discriminate who it infects, society has, and does, discriminate and this is having a huge impact on mortality.
BAME (black and minority ethnic) people are at higher than average risk of dying from Coronavirus in the UK.
We know that good health is strongly related to socio-economic factors. People who work in poorly-paid jobs, and live in over-crowded conditions are more likely to become ill. British BAME people are – in general – poorer than average and therefore suffer most with poor health. This reduces their ability to recover from illness.
Coronavirus has shone a harsh spotlight on this inequality.
At the same time, our local health and care services rely on staff from BAME backgrounds, who comprise a large percentage of workers in this area. The people who care for us when we are ill are more likely to be put at risk of catching Coronavirus and therefore more likely to become ill themselves and – in some very sad cases – die.
We are indebted to all the workers who are looking after our friends and families.
We welcome the Government’s promised review into why BAME people have been so badly affected by Coronavirus. We welcome the Labour Party review which is to be headed by Doreen Lawrence, and look forward to the findings of both reviews.
More must be done now though in order to get ahead of this virus to save as many lives as possible. We support the Mayor of London in calling for accurate data on the demographics of those that are affected by this virus and for it to be routinely collected and published.
Only with accurate, transparent, real-time data can we get ahead of this virus in order to ensure that any further waves of this virus do not impact BAME communities in the same way.
We believe that the best way we can show our gratitude, when this pandemic is under control, is for the Government to acknowledge the link between poverty, race and ill-health; and to commit to do all in its power to ensure all citizens have fair and equal life chances; and that no British citizen has to worry that their socio-economic status means they will die before their time.