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Anti-racists warn against easing lockdown as new data shows disproportionate impact on black men and women

ANTI-RACISM campaigners warned against a premature end to the lockdown today after official figures revealed that black people are over four times more likely to die from coronavirus.

The government’s “stay at home” approach to tackling the pandemic is expected to be modified on Sunday, with a possible easing of lockdown restrictions and a winding-down of its furlough scheme subsidising the pay of laid-off workers.

Anti-racist campaigners are demanding that the lockdown continues, given that the infection rate and daily number of deaths remain high. Britain has now recorded more than 30,000 deaths from coronavirus, the worst toll of any European country.

The call came as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed today that coronavirus patients who are elderly, from poor areas or of black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) origin are more likely to lose their lives.

Black males are 4.2 times more likely to die of a coronavirus-related death than white males, while black females are 4.3 times more likely to than white females.

Stand up to Racism president Diane Abbott said: “This government has never put the public’s health first.

“We now have the worst death toll in the whole of Europe, yet ministers are threatening to force people back to working, including by cutting wage subsidies,” the Labour MP added.

“This is unacceptable. No-one should be forced to risk death to go to work.”

MPs including Ms Abbott, John McDonnell and Dawn Butler, trade-union leaders and others have signed a statement demanding that there is no premature end to the lockdown and highlighting particular concern at the disproportionate impact on BAME communities.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation acting director Helen Barnard called the ONS figures a “stark reminder that, although we are all weathering the same storm, we are not all in the same boat.”

She said: “We entered the crisis with millions of people locked in poverty, struggling against a rising tide of low pay, insecure jobs and spiralling living costs.

“With the Bank of England now forecasting the deepest recession on record, we must ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in after the virus passes.”

Shadow equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova said the crisis has “exposed and amplified economic, social and health injustices” in British society that can no longer be ignored.

Labour is calling for a Covid-19 health inequalities strategy to protect deprived and BAME communities and tackle the hidden health effect of the virus.

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