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Black and Asian minorities hit hardest by coronavirus pandemic

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GERRY LOUGHRAN

By GERRY LOUGHRAN
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Nurse Mary Agyapong, aged 28, was pregnant when she was admitted to hospital in Luton with Covid-19.

Despite the medics’ best efforts, Mary died, but her baby was delivered by caesarean section and at latest report is “doing very well”.

Mary’s story prompted tears and tributes across the nation. Colleagues described her as “a fantastic nurse who devoted her life to the health service”, and a fundraising page was set up to support her baby and family. Within days it had raised more than £100,000 (Ksh13 million).

Mary came from a Ghanaian family and was one of many thousands of black and Asian nurses and doctors who work for the National Health Service. Evidence is emerging that people from these ethnic minorities are being hit disproportionately by the coronavirus.

Only 14 per cent of people in England and Wales come from such backgrounds, but they account for 34 per cent of critically ill virus patients.

Dr John Chinegwundoh, who works at Kingston Hospital in London and is of Nigerian extraction, recently lost his 93-year-old father to the disease and his brother has tested positive.

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He urged the government to track data about viral cases by ethnicity “so that lessons can be learned”.

Experts have suggested that multigenerational household and grouping in places of worship and community centres could be contributory factors.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who comes from a Pakistani family, said: “It is an uncomfortable truth that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are over-represented in poor, overcrowded accommodation. They are more likely to live in poverty or work in precarious and low-paid jobs. Many don’t have the luxury of working from home during the lockdown.”

Mayor Khan welcomed a government pledge to review the situation but said the collection of ethnic data among virus patients “right now” was essential. “There is no reason to wait,” he said.

We sometimes call them “Little Hitlers,” people who act like Adolf Hitler, the long-ago dictator of Nazi Germany, and start ordering everyone else around.

The pandemic has brought them strutting out of their hidey holes to act as self-appointed policemen of the lockdown.

Jane Hurst was walking in a park in Edinburgh and her seven-year-old was skipping playfully ahead. A couple passing by called the boy “a stupid child” and said he should be walking by his mother’s side.

Lauren Ford said two men cycling side by side received “a barrel load of abuse” from an older man. They explained they were flatmates sharing accommodation, but the abuse continued.

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A 68-year-old man, also from Edinburgh, told how he stopped to speak to a friend, making sure there was a large distance between them. He said, “Suddenly, this woman came up shouting that we were too close. She produced a tape measure and began measuring the distance between us. I was shocked by her behaviour.”

Susan Bell said she had seen people “making a big show of disapproval by doing an exaggerated jump or body swerve” away from passers-by.

Other people said they had been tutted and grumbled at or even photographed while out with their families.

If there was to be a vote for Hero of the Lockdown, it would almost certainly name 99-year-old army veteran Tom Moore.

Captain Moore decided he would try to raise £1,000 for the National Health Service by walking around his garden 100 times before his 100th birthday on April 30.

With the aid of a walking frame, he began the 25-metre loop in his garden in 10-lap chunks. News of his marathon began to spread and newspapers and television programmes carried photos and footage of the ex-officer, in smart grey suit, with his World War Two medals on his breast, plodding doggedly in pursuit of his goal.

Mr Moore, who lives in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, trained as a civil engineer before enlisting in the army and serving in India and Myanmar, then known as Burma.

Completing the 100 laps well before his target date, the old soldier was astonished to learn that more than £5 million had been contributed to his fund. He said, “I could never imagine that sort of money. But the NHS deserves every penny of it.”

Captain Moore now needs to stretch his imagination a bit further. At the time of writing this, the fund stands at more than £27 million.

Advice for avoiding the virus includes washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. But how long is 20 seconds? Our priest says it’s the average length of the Lord’s Prayer.

Fighting the virus: Couples: No hugging, no kissing and definitely no sex. Married couples: Continue as before.

Please note: This is the first time in history we can save the human race by lying in front of the TV and doing nothing.





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