BAME workers and single parent families have been the worst affected groups by the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.
Research from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex shows that more BAME workers have lost their jobs after being furloughed than non-BAME groups.
Meanwhile, the loss in weekly earnings for single parents families is over twice as much as the loss for families with more than one adult and children.
Single parents (pictured) and BAME workers have suffered the most financially since the coronavirus pandemic began
Data from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex shows that 20.9 per cent of BAME workers lost their jobs following a reduction in hours compared to just 7.1 per cent of non-black asian and minority ethnic group workers
Over 17,000 people aged between 20 and 65 took part in the regular survey ‘Understanding Society’, one of the largest household surveys in the world.
While the average earnings for non-BAME groups fell from £547-a-week in February to £503-a-week in April, those from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups have seen their weekly earnings drop from £441 to £404 in the same time period.
And of those BAME workers who suffered from a decline in working hours due to the global pandemic, nearly 31 per cent lost their jobs compared to just 7 per cent for non-BAME workers.
The struggle for single parent families has been revealed in the ISER survey, with their average weekly earnings dropping from £326 in February to £253 in April, a loss of £73.
Meanwhile, families with more than one parent and children have lost £36 on a weekly basis between the same months, with wages falling from £511-a-week to £475-a-week.
Thomas Crossley, the associate director for scentific content of the survey, said: ‘These new data shows us that the economic shocks caused by the pandemic have affected unevenly across the UK.
‘We know from this first look at the data that twice as many people expect their financial situation to get worse as those who expect it to get better.
Meanwhile, BAME workers (£44) and single parent families (£73) have had significant losses in terms of average weekly wage groups. The survey asked 17,000 people aged between 20 and 65 years of age
‘This rises to three times as many in the lowest income bracket, and among single parents.’
Paul Fisher of the ISER said: ‘People are mitigating the effects of the pandemic in different ways: multiple adult households have relied on more savings compared to single parents, whereas single parents have relied on more borrowing.
‘The BAME figures are particularly striking and we need to urgently understand the source of the difference.’
As well as suffering from financial hardship, Britons BAME individuals are more likely to die from coronavirus, according to studies from the Government and Public Health England.
Data in the Public Health England report showed that the mortality rate – the number of people dying with the coronavirus out of each 100,000 people – was considerably higher for black men than other group. The risk for black women, people of Asian ethnicity, and mixed race people was also higher than for white people of either sex. The report warned the rate for the ‘Other’ category was ‘likely to be an overestimate’
Covid-19 can be seen to have had a significant effect on the numbers of men dying (dark green) in all ethnic groups but particularly for black and Asian men
A Public Health England (PHE) report from earlier this week revealed Britons of Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of white Brits of dying with the coronavirus.
And it showed black people, as well as those of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, or Caribbean backgrounds had between a 10 and 50 per cent higher risk of death.
The evidence also suggests that white people are much less likely to die from the virus during the pandemic.
The reasons for this are largely unknown but some scientists believe that vitamin D could be an issue.
People with darker skin need to spend more time in sunlight in order to get the same amount of vitamin D as a person with lighter skin.
For this reason, the NHS suggests people with an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background could benefit from take a daily supplement throughout the year.
WHY ELSE MIGHT BAME PEOPLE BE AT HIGHER RISK OF DYING WITH COVID-19?
Scientists are still investigating the reasons that black, Asian and minority ethnic people are more likely to die with the coronavirus.
Some of the prevailing theories so far are that they are more likely to live in high-risk areas – such as densely-populated cities – and are more likely to have illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure which individually increase the risk of dying.
Research presented to Number 10’s SAGE panel found there was no greater risk of death for Brits of BAME backgrounds when all factors were taken into account, suggesting that ‘comorbidities’ – long-term health problems – appeared to account for higher rates of hospitalisation and intensive care among ethnic minority people.
After highlighting the importance of the ‘patient characteristics’ in the chance of someone needing intensive care, the report said: ‘BAME groups are younger and more likely to have diabetes.’
A study published by researchers at University College London in December last year found that ethnic minority people in the UK have higher rates of type 2 diabetes.
Dr Tra My Pham and colleagues found that, using data from more than 400,000 patients in Britain, type 2 diabetes was 2.3 times more common in people of Asian ethnicity than in white people, 65 per cent higher among black people, and 17 per cent higher in those of mixed race.
The virus has also been seen to hit city centres harder – particularly in London and Birmingham. Both have seen higher rates of infection and also more deaths than smaller or more rural areas.
Cities have higher proportions of non-white residents, raising the risk of BAME people catching the virus in the first place. Greater numbers of people in one group catching the virus will inevitably lead to more deaths in that group.
And non-white people are also statistically more likely to live in poverty, which raises their risk of having worse general health – something that can make them more likely to die if they catch Covid-19.
Britain announces 204 more Covid deaths – the lowest Saturday since lockdown – taking total dead to 40,353
By Conor Boyd, Health Reporter for MailOnline
The UK today announced 204 more Covid-19 deaths, the lowest Saturday rise since before lockdown – taking the total number of victims to 40,465.
Today’s figure is down significantly from the record high of 1,115 recorded on Saturday April 18 during the peak of the crisis and marks a consistent downward trend in fatalities.
For comparison, there were 215 coronavirus deaths recorded last Saturday, 282 a fortnight ago and 468 on Saturday, May 16.
It is also the lowest Saturday rise since March 21, three days before the lockdown, when there were just 56 victims.
Nearly 285,000 Britons have now been officially diagnosed with the viral disease, but millions more cases have been missed due to a lack of widespread testing.
Despite the continued downward trend, daily deaths are still in triple figures as the UK’s crisis continues to rumble on.
In France, Italy and Spain – three of the other worst-hit European countries – daily fatalities have been below 100 for weeks.
Scientists are also concerned that the UK’s reproduction ‘R’ rate has now risen to above the dreaded number of one in the North West and South West of England.
The finding has raised the prospect of regional easing of lockdowns in parts of the UK. The R denotes the average number of people an infected patient passes the virus to and keeping it below 1 is crucial to prevent a second surge of the virus.
In other twists and turns in the coronavirus today:
- Thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters have gathered in Parliament Square in a snub to ministers who begged them to stay away due to the Covid threat;
- Hospital staff have slammed Matt Hancock’s ‘pointless’ order for compulsory face-coverings after the peak has already passed;
- A leaked Government document has revealed most Covid patients hand over just one close contact to the NHS ‘track and trace’ team;
- Care homes are still waiting for Covid tests after weeks of asking – as government rushes out kits to all residences where people are all aged over 65;
- Nearly 30 scientists have called for public inquiry into government’s ‘failures’ and warn ‘many more will die’ because second wave now ‘seems probable’ this winter.
Last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government was ‘seeking to take a more local approach’ to tackling outbreaks, suggesting lockdown could be eased at different times in parts of England.
Estimates produced by experts at Public Health England and Cambridge University suggested the R-rate is above the danger level of one in the North West and South West.
The data – fed into No 10’s scientific panel SAGE – suggested the R rate was falling before lockdown was imposed and has been creeping back up since the darkest days of the outbreak at the start of April. SAGE said the overall rate remained between 0.7 and 0.9 across the UK as a whole but admitted it may be a little higher in England.
The team calculated that the crucial ‘R’ reproduction rate fell to just 0.4 in the capital in the aftermath of the lockdown being introduced.
However, the rate in London – as well as other regions – slowly began to creep up to between 0.7-0.8 before moving closer to one in the past few weeks.
At the beginning of the outbreak London was the worst affected region but the latest numbers suggest it is now ahead of all but one region in terms of recovery.
The data, published by the university, shows London is recording 1,310 cases each day – behind only the South West (778).
Estimates produced by experts at Public Health England and Cambridge University suggested the R-rate is above the danger level of one in the North West and South West
Medical officers check the temperature of staff arriving at Newmarket Racecourse today in Suffolk today as horse racing became one of the first of live sports got back up and running
WHAT IS THE R NUMBER? AND HOW IS IT CALCULATED?
WHAT IS R0?
Every infectious disease is given a reproduction number, which is known as R0 – pronounced ‘R nought’.
It is a value that represents how many people one sick person will, on average, infect.
WHAT IS THE R0 FOR COVID-19?
The R0 value for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was estimated by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team to be 2.4 in the UK before lockdown started.
But some experts analysing outbreaks across the world have estimated it could be closer to the 6.6 mark.
Estimates of the R0 vary because the true size of the pandemic remains a mystery, and how fast the virus spreads depends on the environment.
It will spread faster in a densely-populated city where people travel on the subway than it will in a rural community where people drive everywhere.
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO OTHER VIRUSES?
It is thought to be at least three times more contagious than the coronavirus that causes MERS (0.3 – 0.8).
Measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases, and has an R0 value of 12 to 18 if left uncontrolled. Widespread vaccination keeps it suppressed in most developed countries.
Chickenpox’s R0 is estimated to be between 10 and 12, while seasonal flu has a value of around 1.5.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A LOW R0?
The higher the R0 value, the harder it is for health officials control the spread of the disease.
A number lower than one means the outbreak will run out of steam and be forced to an end. This is because the infectious disease will quickly run out of new victims to strike.
HOW IS IT CALCULATED?
Experts use multiple sources to get this information, including NHS hospital admissions, death figures and behavioural contact surveys which ask people how much contact they are having with others.
Using mathematical modelling, scientists are then able to calculate the virus’ spread.
But a lag in the time it takes for coronavirus patients to fall unwell and die mean R predictions are always roughly three weeks behind.
In contrast, the North West of England is recording 4,100 daily infections and has an R rate of 1.01, the highest for any region in the country.
The South West also has an estimated R rate of 1. While the North East and Yorkshire is the only area to still be in the 0.8s.
The growing R rate comes a week after lockdown was eased in England – a move which the Government’s own scientists have criticised.
Last week, four experts on the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said the decision to ease lockdown in England would risk people’s lives.
Professor John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a member of Sage, said he would have preferred to see the R brought down much lower before opening back up.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of Sage, said on Twitter that Covid-19 is ‘spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England’ and NHS test and trace ‘has to be fully working and infection rates have to be lower’.
Professor Peter Horby, from Oxford University, who sits on Sage and chairs its NERVTAG subcommittee, agreed, saying the R number was still close to one.
He told the BBC last week: ‘What I would say is that returning to a situation where we lost control again is far worse than another week or two of social measures,’ he said.
A fourth Sage member, Professor Calum Semple, said a ‘brave’ political decision had been made, which did not align with the science.
He told the BBC: ‘Essentially we’re lifting the lid on a boiling pan and it’s just going to bubble over,’ he said. ‘We need to get it down to simmer before we take the lift off, and it’s too early.’
In another sign of a growing gulf between ministers and scientists, Nearly 30 leading experts have demanded Boris Johnson launches a public inquiry to prepare Britain for a second wave of coronavirus.
The group of 27 said a second epidemic was ‘probable’ this winter and warned it would be more deadly than the first if the Government doesn’t address its failures from the previous outbreak.
They have laid out a series of glaring shortcomings which they say have contributed to the UK suffering more than 40,000 Covid-19 deaths, the highest in Europe.
In a scathing letter published last night, the signatories criticised the Government’s control freakery approach to testing and unwillingness to devolve responsibility to local public health bodies.
They also ripped into ministers for their ‘inability to plan for necessary goods’ such personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS and care home workers.
Among the signatories were ex SAGE scientist, Professor Deenan Pillay, a virologist at University College London, and Professor Anthony Costello, a former World Health Organization (WHO) director and a global health expert at UCL.
The editors of two prestigious medical journals have also put their name to the letter – Richard Horton of the Lancet and Fiona Godlee of the British Medical Journal.
It is the latest sign of brewing tensions between ministers and the country’s top scientists.
There was another indication of growing friction between ministers and scientists last night, when Matt Hancock led the Downing Street press conference alone – without being flanked by a SAGE member.
Fears of a second wave of coronavirus were raised yesterday when Iran has become the first country in the world to report a second epidemic.
The Middle Eastern nation logged a record 3,574 cases of the virus on Wednesday, beating its previous worst day of 3,186 cases logged on March 30.
Iran began easing its lockdown restrictions – which were imposed in February as the virus ran rampant – in mid-April as the disease declined.
Cases began picking up again in early May and have now been above 3,000 for three days running, even as gyms and public offices were reopened at the weekend
Most Covid patients handed over just ONE contact to ‘track and trace’ team – as it emerges £10-an-hour staff are still sitting idle a week after system was launched
By Conor Boyd, Health Reporter for MailOnline
Britons diagnosed with coronavirus are handing over fewer than two close contacts to the Government’s track and tracers, raising doubts about whether the system is fit for purpose.
A leaked document revealed that just 10,000 close contacts were provided by 8,000 people who were diagnosed with coronavirus in England last week.
Experts said today the results were ‘somewhat surprising’ and ‘somewhat disappointing’, and suggest people are still hesitant about handing over phone numbers of friends and family.
Another theory is that people are having very few close interactions with other people because of social distancing rules.
Meanwhile, the £10-an-hour contact tracing staff have complained they are still sitting around idle without any work to do, passing the time by watching Netflix or playing with their dog.
Experts believe a fully functioning test and trace programme will be critical if the UK is to avoid a spike in infections as life gets back to normal.
Countries like Germany and South Korea were two of only a handful of nations to flatten the curve of their outbreaks thanks to stringent test and trace systems.
The NHS Test and Trace programme launched last week but ministers are under pressure after failing to reveal how many people have so far been contacted
Test and trace requires people with symptoms to self-isolate and get tested. If they test positive their close contacts are then tracked down and also told to self-isolate.
The system is designed to break the chain of transmission as quickly as possible in order to squash potential outbreaks and stop them from escalating.
Ministers are facing growing criticism over their refusal to publish data showing how many people have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace so far.
Number 10 would only say the numbers will be released ‘shortly’ once the data has been verified.
The leaked document, seen by the BBC, gives a glimpse into how the crucial scheme is performing in its first week.
But the figures only account for Covid-19 cases in the community and do not include people who were hospitalised with the virus.
Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘I think at the moment this is still very new and the people working the system are only really just getting their heads around how it works. There will still be a lot of wrinkles in the system.
‘But I think that the number of contacts being only a little over a one per case is somewhat surprising I think and somewhat disappointing.’
It has launched without the new NHSX app, which uses Bluetooth technology to alert people when they’ve been close to a COVID-19 patient
What is the NHS Test and Trace system?
Anyone who develops Covid-associated symptoms is being told to self-isolate and get tested under the test and trace scheme.
Close contacts of those who are found to be positive for the disease are then told to quarantine for 14 days – even if they test negative and are not sick.
Boris Johnson’s government has hired an enormous army of 50,000 people who will attempt to make this huge undertaking possible.
Around 25,000 are contact tracers who will contact people who return positive coronavirus tests to grill them on their movements and their known associates.
The idea is to build a picture of who they have come into contact with and so who might be at risk of a) becoming ill and b) passing it on to more people.
Another 25,000 people in the scheme are testers, who will go out into the community and test these known associates.
Either way, these known associates will be under orders to immediately quarantine, even if the tests they return are negative.
Baroness Dido Harding, executive chairwoman of NHS Test and Trace, said the scheme was central to easing the lockdown further.
She said: ‘NHS Test and Trace is designed to enable the vast majority of us to be able to get on with our lives in a much more normal way.
‘We will be trading national lockdown for individual isolation if we have symptoms.
‘Instead of 60 million people being in national lockdown, a much smaller number of us will be told we need to stay at home, either for seven days if we are ill or 14 days if we have been in close contact.’
The UK’s coronavirus tracing programme will be split into two parts.
People will be ordered to self-isolate for seven days if they develop symptoms. Anyone in the same household will have to do the same.
Those people should then order a coronavirus test online or by calling 119. This will be available for residents in Wales from Saturday.
If a test is positive, that victim must complete seven days in isolation. If the test comes back negative, no one needs to self-isolate.
However, people with a positive test for Covid-19 will then be contacted via text message or email or by phone and told to answer questions.
They will be asked to share phone numbers and email addresses for close contacts.
For those under 18, they will receive a call from the team and a parent or guardian must give permission for the call to continue.
People who have been listed as a person with whom a coronavirus victim has had close contact will receive a text message or an email.
They will then be asked to self-isolate for up to 14 days based on when they last came into contact with that person.
Other household members do not need to self-isolate unless symptoms are present.
If they develop Covid-associated symptoms, all other household members should self-isolate and they should then order a test.
If the test is positive, self-isolation must continue for seven days. If the test is negative, that person should still complete 14 days in case the virus is not showing.
‘There was a an unofficial pilot study in Sheffield, and they were reporting the fact they’re finding that often people were unwilling to tell people about their contacts.
‘So maybe there was an element of that but maybe it’s still gearing up and getting the system operating properly.’
Professor Hunter said the contact tracing was complicated and there might be some communication problems across different parts of Government.
One theory for the low contact turnover rate is that people are only having contact with one other person.
But Professor Hunter said he doubted the theory, adding: ‘It’s certainly one interpretation. But how many of us live in households where there is just only one other person? Quite a few, but there will be a lot more families in larger households.’
NHS Test and Trace has suffered numerous set backs since it went live with many staff complaining that they have not got any work to do.
A woman in her 30s, who does not want to be identified, said she has yet to pick up the phone to contact anyone, despite being given a minimum three-month contract working a full 37.5 hour week.
She told The i: ‘I phoned the support team on May 22 to see what was going on and was told ‘you just have to wait’.
‘I have literally just been waiting since then. And I’m not the only one saying this. There’s 182 people on my ‘smart team communicator’ chat.
‘No one I know of has been assigned any calls. Even with the ‘Go Live’ badge I received last week – which you get once the moderators have completed their checks – I still haven’t been given any work to do. It’s a bit worrying to be honest.’
Another said he had spent four shifts playing with his puppy and claimed that more than 80 per cent of staff were idle last week.
The man said: ‘It’s really frustrating. They’re throwing thousands or even millions of pounds away, all of the time I’m sat here doing basically nothing.
‘I sit next to my laptop, reading newspapers and looking after my new puppy. We were told we need to be ready at a moment’s notice, but we’re sat here watching.’
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The new NHS Test and Trace service is up and running and is helping save lives. Anyone in this country can now book a test and the majority who book a test get the results back within a day.
‘We have over 25,000 contact tracers in place, who have all been trained and are fully supported in their work by public health experts.’
It comes after it emerged ministers ignored its own scientists’ advice when developing the contact tracing programme.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) told the Government that anyone who suffers Covid-19-like symptoms should be isolated along with their close contacts.
But the UK and devolved Governments ignored that advice and are only tracing the contacts of people who have been diagnosed with the virus, The i reports.
The decision was made because ministers were concerned the public would become burned out if they were repeatedly asked to self-isolate despite never having the disease.
The crucial test and trace system has been launched without the NHSX mobile app, which alerts people when they have come close to an infected person.
But Transport Secretary last week appeared to confirm the app won’t work perfectly when it is eventually launched nationwide to help halt the spread.
He responded to claims the app – considered the ‘cherry on the cake’ of Number 10’s flagship Test and Trace scheme – would be ‘imperfect’ and ‘clunky’ for several months.
Mr Shapps said: ‘Anyone who downloads an app on their phone knows it is forever being updated and bugs squashed and all the rest of it. Apps are never complete in that sense.’
Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi last night revealed the app won’t go live until the end of the month – despite officials first promising it would be ready to roll-out across Britain in mid-May following a trial on the Isle of Wight.