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UK report: Racism means minorities harder hit by virus

/ 09:57 PM June 16, 2020

LONDON — A new study by Public Health England has confirmed that historic racism and social inequalities are contributing factors that increase the risk of black, Asian and minority communities contracting and dying from the coronavirus in the United Kingdom.

Britain’s government has been under heavy pressure to do more to directly address the issue after data consistently showed that coronavirus death rates were significantly higher for blacks and ethnic minorities compared to white people.

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The report, published Tuesday, didn’t look at genetic factors but said it was clear that the pandemic “exposed and exacerbated longstanding inequalities” in the country.

It said there was a strong association between economic disadvantage and COVID-19 diagnoses. Black people and minority groups are more at risk because they are more likely to live in cramped housing, use public transportation, and work in jobs with a higher risk of virus exposure.

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It added that historic racism and poorer experiences of health care or at work meant that minority groups are less likely to seek care, or demand better protective equipment at work.

“Lack of trust of NHS (National Health Service) and healthcare treatment resulted in their reluctance to seek care on a timely basis, and late presentation with the disease,” the paper said.

The report said officials should start a more comprehensive collection of ethnicity health data and ensure ethnicity is recorded in death certificates. It also recommended targeted messaging on smoking, obesity, and improving management of common health conditions like diabetes.

It came a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a commission to look at what more can be done to fight racial inequality in the U.K. Thousands protested across the country for two weekends in demonstrations spurred by the May 25 death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

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