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Thursday, March 23, 2023

UK COVID-19 investigation should look to racism, a campaign group says. 

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The UK should address how structural racism has affected death tolls in examining how the government is handling the pandemic, the campaign group argues. During the global health crisis, people of minority ethnic backgrounds were far more likely to die than white Britons. Civil rights groups say racism played a role. The group COVID-19 Survivors for Justice said Tuesday in an open letter to Baroness Heather Hallett, who is leading the investigation, that new data released last week ” over represented” the number of deaths from the pandemic.

According to government figures, about 220,000 people have died with COVID-19 on their death certificates in the UK – the seventh-highest toll worldwide. “The most recent data shows that almost all minority ethnic groups died disproportionately from COVID-19. For Bangladeshi men, the death rate was 3.1 times greater than that of White British men, followed by Pakistani men (2.3 times) and Black Caribbean men (1.8 times),” the group’s letter said. The inquiry was set up after heavy criticism that the government was unprepared to deal with the spread of the virus. The letter’s signatories include the Runnymede Trust, Action for Race Equality, and Asylum Matters.

The group said it was “disappointed” to hear about the investigation after learning it had been outsourced to a public relations firm with close ties to the government. They called on the inquiry to examine systemic racism in all parts of the process bring in experts, rethink interviews and ensure that refugee and immigrant rights groups are represented as participants.

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