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Government ‘repeatedly ignored warnings’ hostile environment policies are making migrants vulnerable to Covid-19

THE government has “repeatedly ignored warnings” that its hostile environment policies are making migrants vulnerable to Covid-19, a charity said today.

Medical and migrant rights groups renewed calls for the government to ban immigration policies from the health system, following repeated warnings that they are leaving migrants unable or unwilling to seek help.

The calls came in response to a report by public health charity Medact which found that 57 per cent of case workers said that migrants were not accessing healthcare for fear of being charged, sharing personal data or through other migrant-enforcement concerns.

It highlights a case where these fears may have led to death of an undocumented Filipino migrant. The man, known as Elvis, refused to call an ambulance while severely ill for two weeks with Covid-19 for fear of potential costs and being reported to the Home Office.

Aliya Yule of Migrants Organise, which co-authored the report, said: “The devastating impact of these policies is reflected in the disproportionate number of migrant and BAME communities who are dying because of coronavirus.

“The government is now repeatedly ignoring concerns that the hostile environment means that migrant and BAME communities will be even less protected from contracting the virus, or able to access help that they need.”

Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy told the Morning Star that the government was putting immigration enforcement ahead of public health.

“If the government is serious about tackling disproportionate coronavirus deaths in the BAME community, we must suspend the hostile environment in healthcare and make sure everyone can get the help they need,” she said.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said NHS trusts have been advised that no immigration checks were required for overseas visitors who are known to be undergoing testing or treatment for Covid-19 only.

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