London mayor Sadiq Khan has said that the ethnicity of COVID-19 patients should be collected and published in real-time.
There should be a commitment from the UK government to routinely collect and publish data on the demographics of everyone impacted by the coronavirus so that we can understand and act on these concerns, he said.
His statement assumes significance as a recent study showed that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities account for a third of critically ill coronavirus patients in UK hospitals.
“One of the biggest underlying factors driving the disproportionate number of deaths in BAME communities is socioeconomic,” says Khan.
“Many simply don’t have the luxury of being able to work safely from home during the lockdown. All of this contributes to a BAME population with worse health than average, lower life expectancy and a greater prevalence of serious underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes”.
In the NHS, around 40 per cent of doctors and 20 per cent of nurses are from BAME backgrounds. In London, 67 per cent of the adult social care workforce is from these backgrounds.
“This exposure puts them at greater risk of catching the coronavirus in the first place,” Khan pointed out.
He welcomed the government’s announcement to launch a review into why people from BAME backgrounds are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
“I’m a proud Londoner who often talks about how nowhere else in the world could someone from my background – the son of a bus driver, the child of immigrants and someone of Muslim faith – reach the position I have. But I want us to be even better and to live up to our British values of fairness, equality and justice for all,” the mayor said.
Khan appealed to forge a new social contract that advances the twin causes of racial and economic equality and prioritises the welfare and well-being of every single community in the country.