Covid-19 has 'thrived' on decades of racial inequality, says Baroness Lawrence

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The coronavirus pandemic has "thrived" among black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) communities according to a report commissioned by Labour.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence,who has written the report said these groups were "over-exposed" and faced "barriers" to healthcare. The report also added that it was an "avoidable crisis" fuelled by systemic racism.

Overcrowded housing and public-facing jobs has made it harder for BAME people to avoid the virus, while many have suffered "disgraceful racism" - fuelled partly by global leaders calling Covid-19 the "Chinese virus", the review said.

Baroness Lawrence - mother of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993 - wrote: "Black, Asian and minority ethnic people have been overexposed, under-protected, stigmatised and overlooked during this pandemic - and this has been generations in the making.

Government analysis published in August found people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had about twice as high a risk of death from Covid-19 as white British people.

People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, black Caribbean and other black ethnicity had between a 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared with white British people.

Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch said higher transmission rates among BAME groups appeared to be down to "a range of socio-economic and geographical factors", including exposure at work, population density and household composition, as well as pre-existing health conditions.

The report said BAME workers were more likely than white people to work in "frontline" jobs and come into contact with coronavirus.

Baroness Lawrence urged ministers to remind employers they had a legal duty to record COVID-19 deaths caused by occupational exposure.

BAME people were also "under-represented across the senior leadership of the NHS".

Baroness Lawrence, whose report was commissioned by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in April, said BAME groups had "also been subject to disgraceful racism as some have sought to blame different communities for the spread of the virus".

Baroness Lawrence's findings were welcomed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who commissioned the study.

He said failing to act on the recommendations would "leave many of our fellow citizens badly exposed over the winter".

Last week, Dr Raghib Ali, a newly appointed expert scientific adviser to the government,

suggested ethnicity did not have as much influence as factors such as jobs and housing.

A government spokesperson defended their record, saying they "continue to take action to address the disparities that exist across society".

"The current evidence shows that a range of factors result in different groups being at an increased risk of infection and death from Covid-19 - from exposure in the workplace, to pre-existing health conditions," The spokesman added.

Meanwhile, the government has been urged to suspend the "no recourse to public funds" rule, which prevents some migrants accessing state assistance, and give support to anyone struggling to self-isolate.