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Risk of coronavirus death far higher for Black people and manual workers, research finds

Black people and men of Pakinstani and Bangladeshi heritage are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as White people, and mortality rates from the virus are three times higher for men in lower-paid, manual roles, according to a new report.

Experts from The University of Manchester co-authored the report—commissioned by London Mayor Sadiq Khan—with the University of Sussex and social enterprise The Ubele Initiative. It reveals the shocking disproportionate effect of COVID-19 in relation to disability, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic position, age and other factors, including homelessness and being in prison.

The research analyzed existing data from local and national sources to assess the impact of the pandemic on people with characteristics protected by law. It reveals that, across the country:

  • Black people are at almost twice the risk of death from COVID-19 than White people, with men of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage 1.8 times more likely and women from the same backgrounds 1.6 times at greater risk. This disparity is partly due to longstanding socio-economic inequalities and the increased likelihood of underlying health conditions as well as the overrepresentation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in careers such as health and social care, professions more likely to be exposed to the virus.
  • Death rates are three times higher for men in lower-paid, manual roles, such as construction and personal care, than in those in management, business and desk-based jobs. The inability to work from home and limited capacity to socially distance while working put people in non-professional roles at greater risk, not only of having their salary or hours cut, but of being furloughed or catching the virus.
  • Women have experienced disproportionate economic, social and psychological impacts during the pandemic—mothers were 47 percent more likely than fathers to have lost their jobs or resigned, and 14 percent more likely to have been furloughed.
  • The pandemic has negatively impacted disabled people, who reported increased difficulties performing practical tasks such as shopping, as well as accessing up-to-date health information. Concerns were also raised around the lack of guidance available in accessible formats, including in prominent situations such the Government’s daily press briefings which did not always feature British Sign Language interpreters.
  • Almost four in five (79 percent) LGBTQ+ people said that their mental health had been negatively impacted by the coronavirus lockdown, and many young LGBTQ+ people have reported feeling unsafe during lockdown in their current housing conditions.

The report also found that voluntary and community sector organizations play a crucial role in reaching those disproportionately impacted and marginalized groups, including disabled people.The report makes 35 recommendations to address inequalities in relation to the social, psychological, economic and health consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

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