Mayor calls for BAME coronavirus deaths review


The Government must launch a public inquiry to find out why more people from ethnic minorities are dying of coronavirus, the Mayor of London has said.

Ministers have promised a review as mounting evidence shows black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people are more likely to die of Covid-19 than white Brits.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson should go further and set up an independent public inquiry, according to Sadiq Khan.

The Mayor said the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 in London is a “shocking” insight into inequality in the city, and “simply cannot be ignored”.

“This pandemic must be a wake-up call for our country and the Government’s current review is not enough,” he said.

Only a “wide-ranging public inquiry” will ensure communities are involved and build trust in the findings, he added.

The Covid-19 death rate for BAME Brits is more than twice as high as for white Brits, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank.

With more than 40% of Londoners from BAME heritage, the problem is particularly acute in the capital.

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Many key workers are from minority ethnic groups, putting them at greater risk of catching the virus, the IFS report said.

And some BAME people are also more likely to have pre-existing health conditions and be on lower incomes, which could make them more vulnerable, the research found.

Mr Khan has now added his voice to community leaders, academics and activists supporting African diaspora community group Ubele Initiative to push for a public inquiry.

They want the Government to examine how vulnerable BAME key workers are during the pandemic.

The review should also consider how Government funding is spread across different communities,  and how BAME people are factored into emergency planning, the group said.

And it should assess whether emergency powers brought in during the Covid-19 outbreak are having a disproportionate effect on BAME communities, they added.

Ubele Intiative chief executive Yvonne Field said the impact of coronavirus on BAME communities is “deeply disturbing but not in the least surprising”.

She said the Government must be held to account for this “catastrophic systemic failure” with public scrutiny.

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