Public Health England will start recording coronavirus cases and deaths by ethnicity, BBC News understands.
This comes after research suggests that black, Asian and minority people are more at risk of getting seriously ill with Covid-19.
Downing Street has commissioned an investigation into the matter.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said, “The virus appears to have a disproportionate impact on BAME communities in the UK. “
Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, he added, “It is for this reason that the chief medical officer commissioned work from Public Health England to better understand this problem. It is only fair that we do extensive research quickly, so that we can understand it better. then take whatever action is necessary. “
The National Center for Critical Care Research and Audit found that 34% of the more than 4,800 critically ill patients with Covid-19 were identified as black, Asian or from an ethnic minority.
This is despite the fact that only 14% of people in England and Wales are from ethnic minorities, according to the 2011 census.
“Risk assessment of certain groups”
According to BBC analysis, almost three-quarters of the 51 health workers whose deaths have been announced are also from BAME.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, president of the British Medical Association, said that it was essential to know why ethnic minorities were disproportionately affected.
“We must do everything now to avoid further deaths,” he said.
“We may need to assess the risks of certain groups of NHS workers if they are older or have other medical conditions – they should be protected and prevented from being exposed to the virus. “
Dr. Nagpaul said that there were not enough data on why illnesses and deaths were more prevalent among ethnic minorities because they were not systematically collected.
He also said that death certificates currently do not contain information on ethnicity, so it is not possible to see if other factors played a role.
“Not the right treatment”
Robert Murray, 56, said his family was concerned about the treatment his aunt had received in the hospital and was “extremely upset” by staff to tell him “that she was not going to do much for she “.
Sylvia Douglas, pastor at Bethel United Church in Slough, was admitted to Wexham Park Hospital by ambulance on April 1 after developing respiratory problems from a dry cough.
The 82-year-old man, who had high blood pressure, tested positive for coronavirus and died the next day after being placed on a continuous positive pressure device (CPAP).
Ms. Douglas, a member of the Windrush generation, was described by her family as a “caring, kind and supportive woman” who was greatly loved by her community.
“We were all shocked that she died so quickly and thought she would get out of it,” said Douglas.
“I spoke to her via video link earlier today and she seemed so loud,” he added. “One of the difficulties for us is that she received morphine without suffering.
“We would really like to have clear answers about what has happened in the past few hours so that we can be sure that we are not treated differently in the system. “
“Distrust of the authorities”
De-Shaine Murray, 25, of the West Midlands, said he was concerned about “ridiculous” suggestions on social media suggesting that black people could not contract the disease.
The bioengineering doctoral student at Imperial College London said the government needs to do more to reach communities that “have already distrusted certain authorities.”
A London funeral director, who asked to be anonymous, told the BBC that he usually treats three deaths a week but “now prepares three a day.”
“I think the NHS is just overwhelmed when it comes to Covid-19 patients and those admitted with more common health conditions,” he said.
“We have heard from relatives that their elderly relatives went to the hospital even with underlying health problems and died after being admitted within a few days. “
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Dr. Riyaz Patel, associate professor of cardiology at University College London, said there are many reasons why black and Asian patients may be at higher risk.
These include socio-economic factors, such as BAME patients being more likely to live with many different generations in the same household and in densely populated areas, as well as biological factors.
“One thing that is very visible to us in London’s intensive care units is how diabetes, high blood pressure and maybe a little bit overweight seem to be such a powerful risk factor for developing serious lung disease.” , maybe even more than having an existing lung. a disease that you think is a greater risk, “said Dr. Patel.
“All of these risk factors are more common in black and Asian patients, so there might be a link here that requires further exploration. “
Research in critical care patients with Covid-19 has also revealed:
- the average patient was 59.5 years
- there were almost three times more men than women – 72% men; 27.9% women
- more than a third were overweight – with a BMI of 25 to 30
- 38% were obese – with a BMI over 30
- the younger the patient, the more likely they are to survive