Pedestrians, some wearing a face mask walk in the early morning fog in Walthamstow, east London on November 27.(AFP)
Pedestrians, some wearing a face mask walk in the early morning fog in Walthamstow, east London on November 27.(AFP)

Covid-19: Death toll of UK Indians crosses 1,000

As of Thursday evening, 1,029 Indians had passed away in England’s hospitals and care homes, according to the National Health Service (NHS). The Indian ethnic group is followed by Pakistanis.
By Prasun Sonwalkar , edited by Vinod Janardhanan | Hindustan Times, London
UPDATED ON NOV 27, 2020 06:58 PM IST

The death toll from Covid-19 of patients categorised as ‘Indian’ in official figures crossed the grim milestone of 1,000 on Friday, making the community the worst-hit among non-whites and complementing studies that showed non-whites have been disproportionately hit by the virus.

As of Thursday evening, 1,029 Indians had passed away in England’s hospitals and care homes, according to the National Health Service (NHS). The Indian ethnic group is followed by Pakistanis, with 889 deaths, and Caribbean ethnicity with 739 deaths.

Funeral companies catering to the Indian and Asian communities have been busier than ever this year, particularly in towns and areas such as Leicester, Birmingham, Manchester, Southall, Brent and Harrow.

Those from the Indian community who succumbed to the virus include several doctors, nurses and pharmacists on the frontline of treatment. The largest number of health professionals in the NHS, after those who trained in the UK and EU, are from India, besides such UK-trained personnel of Indian origin.

Health professionals of Indian heritage who passed away include Jitendra Kumar Rathod, Manjeet Singh Riyat, Krishan Arora, Rajesh Kalraiya, Pooja Sharma, Jayesh Patel, Vivek Sharma, Kamlesh Kumar Masson, Amarante Dias, Sophie Fagan, Hamza Pacheeri and Amrik Bamotra.

According to Kamlesh Khunti, a medical expert at the University of Leicester, the reasons Indian and other non-white people figure more in the Covid-19 figures, despite accounting for only 14% of the UK population, include lower socioeconomic backgrounds, work in public-facing occupations, holding different cultural beliefs and behaviours or being at high risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Several research reports published this year concluded that non-white communities have been disproportionately affected by the virus.

People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Black Caribbean and Other Black ethnicity have between 10 and 50% higher risk of death when compared to White British, according to a report of Public Health England.

It said: “When compared to previous years, we also found a particularly high increase in all cause deaths among those born outside the UK and Ireland; those in a range of caring occupations including social care and nursing auxiliaries and assistants; those who drive passengers in road vehicles for a living including taxi and minicab drivers and chauffeurs; those working as security guards and related occupations; and those in care homes”.

A report by think-tank Runnymede Trust found that, besides structural inequalities, non-white groups are at greater risk from Covid-19 for various reasons.

They are more likely to be working outside their home, using public transport, working in key worker roles, and living in multigenerational, overcrowded housing and therefore less able to self-isolate and shield from the virus, it said.

They are also less likely to be rotected with personal protective equipment, it added.

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