Coronavirus: Racism has contributed to COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on BAME community, leaked report shows

An official review has found “racism, discrimination and social inequalities” have contributed to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, Sky News has learned.

The revelation forms part of a report by Public Health England (PHE) that still hasn’t been published in full by the government, in a section newly obtained by Sky News.

The document, written by Professor Kevin Fenton from Public Health England, includes recommendations to protect BAME people from COVID-19.

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It was put together after engagement with 4,000 stakeholders expressing the BAME community’s “deep dismay, anger, loss and fear” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the executive summary of this review, obtained by Sky News, it says: “It is clear from discussions with stakeholders the pandemic exposed and exacerbated long-standing inequalities affecting BAME communities in the UK.”

The review also highlighted how many BAME people are in key worker roles, meaning they “may be more exposed to COVID-19, and therefore are more likely to be diagnosed”.

The review also states: “Stakeholders pointed to racism and discrimination experienced by communities and more specifically BAME key workers as a root cause to exposure risk and disease progression.”

During the engagement with stakeholders, PHE also found that there were major worries around the second phase of COVID-19 and the impact this could have on the BAME community.

The engagement sessions highlighted the BAME community’s deep concern that, if lessons are not learnt from the initial phase of this epidemic, future waves of the disease could again have severe and disproportionate impacts.

This element of the review was “held back” by the government because of “current global tensions” such as the Black Lives Matter movement, Sky News can reveal.

Whitehall sources told Sky News releasing this element would be in “too close proximity” to the protests.

But this was almost two weeks ago when the data analysis of PHE’s review was rapidly published by the government.

Responding to this leaked document, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The impact of COVID-19 on people from BAME communities is serious, and as the data shows for many it can be fatal.

“This should demand urgent action from ministers. Instead we have had misleading statements and a lack of transparency.

“We shouldn’t have to rely on leaks. This report should be published in full ASAP and action taken. Labour have been raising concerns for weeks and calling for greater use of targeted testing and protection for staff on frontline for example.”

The executive summary is split into five elements, including long-standing inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19, increased risk of exposure, increased risk of complications and death and racism, discrimination, stigma, fear and trust.

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