Ethnicity and coronavirus (COVID-19)

Ethnicity and coronavirus (COVID-19)

A review by Public Health England (PHE)1 and data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS)2 have revealed wide disparities between how coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected people. We are writing to let you know what our councils are doing in response to the disproportionate impacts on people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

The largest disparity the research shows is by age: people over 80 are seventy times more likely to die of COVID-19 than people under 40. In addition, there are troubling disparities between people of different ethnic backgrounds. The reasons are complex. Where you live, who you live with, your occupation, your socio-economic position and other inequalities may all contribute to increased risk of catching, becoming seriously ill or dying of COVID-19.

Taking all these factors into account:

  • Men are much more likely to catch COVID-19 than women in all groups
  • Black men are twice as likely to die of COVID-19 related causes than white men
  • Bangladeshi and Pakistani men are 1.5 times more likely to die of COVID-19 related causes than white men
  • Indian men are 1.6 times more likely to die of COVID-19 related causes than white men
  • Black women are 1.4 times more likely to die of COVID-19 related causes than white women. Other health conditions (known as ‘comorbidities’) can also increase your risk. The evidence shows that diabetes, hypertensive diseases, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and dementia are more likely to be mentioned on death certificates of people with COVID-19 than other conditions.
As members of Essex Resilience Forum our authorities and local health services have established an Ethnicity and COVID-19 task group to identify and address local concerns and take appropriate actions to help reduce disparities in risks and outcomes.
The group has links into BAME employee networks and faith and community organisations. Over the coming weeks the group will share national and local guidance, explore commissioning local research, and identify employment sectors, such as the taxi and security industries, where targeted interventions could help reduce disparities. It is also ensuring that targeted risk assessments for BAME employees across public services are done, and that measures are put in place to protect staff. If you would like to find out more about the work of this group, please get in touch by email.

Five-point guidance for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people

The first thing the task group has done is produce some guidance for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people on what they and others can do to protect themselves from COVID- 19.

In short these are:

  1. Know the risks
  2. Maintain good hygiene such as regular hand washing
  3. Protect yourself and others – keep two metres apart and wear a face covering
  4. Talk about your concerns
  5. Stay healthy to reduce your risk of getting ill.

The guidance is published in full on our website.

To learn more about the risks and what you can do see the Government’s coronavirus information.

You may also want to watch this short video by members of Young Essex Assembly about social distancing.

If you have concerns or need emotional support, see NHS Every Mind Matters.