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Warning on Covid-19 impact on ethnic minorities and migrants

Thursday June 11th 2020

Society's response to Covid-19 has discriminated against ethnic minorities, increasing the risks they have faced, according to global health specialists today.

The raised risks facing ethnic minorities and migrants has been overlooked, say Dr Delan Devakumar, of the Institute for Global Health at University College London, UK, and colleagues in today’s (11 June) Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Dr Devakumar said: “Black, Asian and minority ethnic and migrant groups have a greater risk of contracting Covid-19 infection, as they are more likely to live in poor and overcrowded accommodation and do precarious forms of work or work in the gig economy. They are also more likely to get a severe form of the infection.”

He added that, due to the UK government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy, many migrant groups, especially those without documents, are less likely to seek help, or may seek help later, with more advanced disease.

Upfront charging and the sharing of data with the Home Office create barriers to accessing the health service, the report states. Furthermore, the severe recession likely to result from the pandemic will have the greatest impact on the poorest and most vulnerable.

Dr Devakumar added: “Economic hardship is a fertile ground for populist movements to thrive and sadly, many world leaders have used the Covid-19 outbreak, mixing public health actions with divisive policies to further their own agendas.

“To successfully combat a pandemic, health protection measures rely on well-prepared and well-functioning health services that treat and support everyone, ensuring those most at risk are protected. Public health principles based around equity should be firmly at the core of the world’s response.”

Devakumar, D. et al. COVID-19: the great unequaliser. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 11 June 2020 doi: 10.1177/0141076820925434

Tags: Flu & Viruses | UK News | World Health

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