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Anti-racists warn that BAME communities will bear the brunt of ending lockdown early

ANTI-RACIST campaigners warned against a premature end to the Covid-19 lockdown today, warning that black, Asian and minority-ethnic (BAME) communities will bear the brunt of a second wave of the virus.

There is mounting evidence that people from minority-ethnic backgrounds have been disproportionately affected during the coronavirus crisis.

A report by the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre published this month found that 33 per cent of critically ill Covid-19 patients were from BAME backgrounds, despite such groups accounting for only about 13 per cent of British population.

The disparity has prompted major concerns about the implications of easing the lockdown before the full impact of the virus on BAME communities is understood. 

Today, Labour MP Diane Abbott repeated calls for a public inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on BAME people.

“There is no denying that the coronavirus is hitting black, Asian and other ethnic-minority communities hardest,” she said, before a Stand up to Racism (SUTR) meeting on the subject last night. “The urgent question is why, so that we can do something about it in time.”

Ms Abbott spoke alongside fellow Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, journalist Gary Younge and Azeem Majeed, a primary-care professor at Imperial College London.

On May 10, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government’s plan for ending the lockdown, starting with the return of workers who cannot do their jobs from home. But trade-union leaders and campaigners questioned the easing of the measures while Britain’s Covid-19 outbreak was still among the worst in Europe.

Ms Ribeiro-Addy said it was clear that BAME communities would be most affected by a premature end to the lockdown. 

“Overwhelmingly, those being forced to put their health at risk and go back to work are in low-paid occupations, which are disproportionately done by BAME people,” she said.

Campaigners also slammed the government’s immigration Bill, which passed its second reading in the Commons on Monday night with 351 votes in favour and 252 against. 

SUTR co-convener Weyman Bennett said the legislation, which could require many migrants to secure a job with a minimum salary of £25,600, is an insult to the foreign health and care workers risking their health during the crisis.

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