The UK government on Sunday said it is planning to impose localised lockdowns in some regions showing a spike in coronavirus infections, as latest figures showed that Indian-origin people remain in the category of those hardest hit from the deadly virus among Britain’s ethnic minorities.
Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed as “correct” the reports of the first such local lockdown for Leicester, a region in eastern England with a large Indian-origin population.
“We have seen flare-ups across the country already, just in the last three or four weeks in particular. There will be support going into Leicester,” said Ms. Patel.
“With local flare-ups it is right we have a localised solution in terms of infection control, social distancing, testing and many of the tools actually within the Public Health England space that will come together to control the virus and to stop the spread so we can get on top of the infection,” she said.
Ms. Patel’s confirmation came as England has seen an overall fall in the daily death toll and prepares to substantially lift its lockdown restrictions from July 4, when bars, restaurants and cinemas will begin to open up to public access amid Covid-secure guidelines of safe distancing and hygienic conditions.
Over 760 deaths
Meanwhile, the latest NHS England statistics revealed that 763 people identifying with Indian heritage have died so far in the pandemic, according to data collated until last Thursday.
This continues to reflect 3% of the total deaths officially recorded by the National Health Service (NHS) from coronavirus, first reported in April at the peak of the pandemic, followed by those of Pakistani and Caribbean heritage as the second-hardest hit ethnic groups at 2% each.
The UK government had conducted a review into the disparity in the impact from the coronavirus pandemic among the country’s black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups and Public Health England (PHE) said it is exploring further measures required to address the disproportionately adverse impact on some ethnicities.
As part of some targeted measures, new official guidance was put in place earlier this week which requires pregnant women from BAME backgrounds to be fast-tracked to hospital because of their increased risk of coronavirus.
“While Public Health England is continuing to assess and advise on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on ethnic groups, I want to make sure that the NHS is doing everything we can to reach out, reassure and support those pregnant women and new mums most at risk,” said Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, the Chief Midwifery Officer for England.
All hospitals have also been instructed to complete risk assessments for staff who are perceived at being at a higher risk of coronavirus, including those from a BAME background and with underlying health conditions.
The UK has so far reported 311,739 coronavirus cases and 43,598 fatalities due to the disease.