Public Health England’s Unpublished Report Shows Racism Contributed to Coronavirus-Related BAME Deaths15 Jun 2020
The official review by Public Health England looking into the disproportionate number of deaths among the UK’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic population shows that racism was a factor. A copy of the yet-unpublished report, which was obtained by Sky News, suggested that racism and discrimination experienced by BAME individuals, including key workers, contributed to the heightened exposure to the virus and the resulting deaths.
According to Sky News, the BAME section of the report was not published due to the on-going tensions over the Black Lives Matter protests. These revelations, however, are likely to increase the suspicions of BAME communities towards the government even further.
The unofficially-unpublished document contains the investigation of Professor Kevin Fenton
The main goal of the Public Health England report was to analyse the reasons behind the disproportionate number of infections and deaths relating to the coronavirus outbreak. However, earlier this month it was revealed that the relevant section of the report, which was led by black health expert Professor Kevin Fenton, was omitted from the final report. The report also omitted thousands of eyewitness accounts and testimonies relating to racially-discriminatory treatment. It merely confirmed that the number of deaths among BAME individuals were indeed high.
Things became even more muddled following news last week that Professor Fenton’s report was written but was simply not published. Officials said that Fenton’s part of the report would be released separately.
New revelations alleged by Sky News, which claims that it received a copy of the yet-unpublished report, suggests that the report was not released due to the already-high racial tensions relating to the Black Lives Matter protests. Quoting sources in Whitehall, it was alleged that the release of the report would be “too close proximity” to the protests.
The content of the report confirms that long-standing structural and economic inequalities impacting the BAME communities in the UK contributed to the high levels of deaths and infections. Citing testimonies, the report found that “racism and discrimination experienced by communities and more specifically BAME key workers was a root cause to exposure risk and disease progression.”
Stakeholders also expressed concerns that the BAME community could be hit even harder by a second wave of the outbreak.
While the government’s efforts to omit the report may have been aimed at preventing tensions, the fallout of the report is likely to worsen the suspicions felt by BAME communities towards the government, and its handling of the outbreak. Already, many community leaders and opposition politicians have criticised the government’s lack of transparency and misleading statements.
“We shouldn’t have to rely on leaks. This report should be published in full ASAP and action taken,” said Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary.
So far, the exact findings of the report have not been published. However, BAME activists said that structural economic inequalities that forced BAME individuals to take high-risk and less paid positions were exacerbated by healthcare officials ignoring calls from BAME staff about the lack of PPE and other concerns.