Labour has welcomed the government announcement that there will be a review looking into the apparent disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities.
The investigation launch follows news that 70% of the 54 frontline health and social care workers who have died due to Covid-19 in England and Wales were black or from an ethnic minority.
Analysis by Sky News has also found that four of the five health trusts in England which have recorded the most deaths so far cover areas with some of the highest combined South Asian and black populations.
That 44% of NHS doctors and 24% of nurses are from a BAME background is also likely to raised in the review led by the NHS and Public Health England along with organisations such as the British Medical Association.
Commenting on the announcement, Labour’s new Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary Marsha de Cordova said: “We welcome the review into the disturbing impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities.”
She noted, however, that “it is not yet clear whether it will be independent, when it will be concluded and who will be leading it”.
De Cordova added: “The government must ensure the review is robust and looks into the underlying structural economic and social inequalities that have affected BAME communities in this crisis.
“It must also urgently record data broken down by ethnicity on the number of people who have died as a result of Covid-19.
“The devastating effect of Covid-19 on BAME communities cannot be overstated. This review must be the first step in ensuring that all communities are equally protected from this virus.”
Asked about an investigation into BAME deaths related to coronavirus during a Zoom call with members on Wednesday, Keir Starmer said: “This is a very real issue and you can see it in the numbers.”
The new leader added: “Rather than shy away from this, we’ve got to see it for what it is and look into what lies behind these numbers… The sooner we drill down into this, the better.”
Similar concerns have been expressed in the US, where fresh data has shown that people in America who are black or hispanic have been twice as likely to die from Covid-19.