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UK News Coronavirus: Review into impact of COVID-19 on BAME community delayed again

07:10  02 june  2020
07:10  02 june  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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A review into how the BAME community has been affected by COVID-19 has been delayed again because of "worries" around "current global events", Sky News understands.

Public Health England's review was commissioned by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and due for release "by the end of May" as per the terms of reference.

But government sources said it was being put on hold until Wednesday because it was not ready for publishing.

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They now say it has been delayed further because it is in "close proximity to the current situation in America" and it would be a "bad combination" if it was released amid global outrage over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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One Whitehall source told Sky News: "The government won't be able to put this out without concrete and solid next steps."

However the Department of Health and Social Care denied the the delay in the report's release was linked to events in the US.

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A spokesperson said: "Ministers received initial findings today (Monday). They are being rapidly considered and a report will be published this week. It is not true to say this has been delayed due to global events."

The review, which is being led by Professor Kevin Fenton, looks at why it appears that Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people are dying disproportionately from COVID-19.

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It will look at the health records of more than a thousand people who tested positive for coronavirus and also take into account a number of studies that highlight the issue.

In the terms of reference published by Public Health England early last month, the organisation said: "Initial findings should be available by the end of May".

But Sky News was told on Friday that the report publication was delayed as it was being peer-reviewed and finalised.

Responding to the further delay, shadow equality secretary Marsha De Cordova said: "It is unacceptable that this review should be delayed without a given date for its publication. BAME communities need answers.

a man cooking in a kitchen preparing food: The review will look at the health records of more than a thousand people © Ooyala - Sky News UK The review will look at the health records of more than a thousand people

"There is a gross irony in delaying the release of a report into the unequal suffering of the BAME community, on the basis of global events that relate to the suffering of black communities around the world.

"If anything, recent events make the release of this report all the more urgent. If the government is serious about tackling racial injustice, they should not be shying away from understanding into why these injustices exist."

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: "The government's commissioned review by Public Health England needs to be concluded as soon as possible in order for us to make sense of why this dreadful virus is impacting so adversely on the BAME community and, most importantly, what needs to be done to urgently protect them."

Public Health England said in a statement: "The review will be published shortly."

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Stay at home as much as possible to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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