Sharma, Arora, Rathod, Riyat: UK mourns Covid-19 deaths
A sombre looking Johnson – who had a brush with death after being hospitalised with virus infection – stood in silence at the cabinet table in Downing Street, flanked by chancellor Rishi Sunak and cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill.Updated: Apr 28, 2020, 19:41 IST
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday led the United Kingdom for a minute’s silence to remember the hundreds of doctors, nurses, carers and other key workers who died of Covid-19, many of them of Indian origin and other non-white individuals.
As mass circulation tabloids and mainstream news media highlight the disproportionate number of deaths of non-white people, mostly immigrants and their descendants, there are indications that their contribution to British society is being more widely recognised.
A sombre looking Johnson – who had a brush with death after being hospitalised with virus infection – stood in silence at the cabinet table in Downing Street, flanked by chancellor Rishi Sunak and cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill.
It is a reflection of tens of thousands of Indian doctors and health care professionals arriving in the UK over recent decades and taking up key jobs in the National Health Service that the dead include several professionals from the 1.5 million strong Indian community.
Medical staff 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.
Health secretary Matt Hancock on Monday announced a 60,000-pound compensation scheme for the family of health workers who pass away after being infected by the virus. The Home Office has announced a free year-long extension of visa of Indian and other non-EU such workers
Hancock said: “Nothing can make up for the tragic loss of a loved one during this pandemic. We owe a huge debt to those who die in service to our nation and are doing everything we can to protect them”.
“Financial worries should be the last thing on the minds of their families so in recognition of these unprecedented circumstances we are expanding financial protection to NHS and social care workers delivering publicly funded care on the frontline”.
Home secretary Priti Patel said the controversial immigration health surcharge, which is also applicable to doctors and other health professionals coming to the UK and is payable at the time of applying for the visa, is under review, following demands that it be scrapped.
The surcharge, which is due to be increased from £400 to £624 per year per person in an immigrant’s family, has come in for much criticism from stake-holders, including organisations such as the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin.