Risk and Outcomes of COVID-19 and Our Community

Afzal Sayed Munna : It is indeed very alarming for us, especially Bangladeshi along with other Asian and Black African communities. There is a lot disagreement about the recent report published by the government, and many expressed their anguish on the findings. Our BAME community leaders has expressed their feelings and worries about the findings and specially established their criticism in various means. I do agree with many of them (In fact all of them) on the end note and at the same time I am worried about the safety of our community people, especially elderly and age vulnerable people. The report identified few common areas which are as follows:

Accordingly, to the report-
• Working age males diagnosed with COVID-19 were twice as likely to die as females
• London had the highest rates
• Local authorities with the highest diagnoses and death rates are mostly urban
• People who live in deprived areas have higher diagnosis rates and death rates than those living in less deprived areas.
• People from Black ethnic groups were most likely to be diagnosed. Death rates from COVID-19 were highest among people of Black and Asian ethnic groups.

An analysis of survival among confirmed COVID-19 cases and using more detailed ethnic groups, shows that after accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation and region, people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of death than people of White British ethnicity. People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Caribbean and Other Black ethnicity had between 10 and 50% higher risk of death when compared to White British.

Analysing the profession and professional involvement the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that men working as security guards, taxi drivers and chauffeurs, bus and coach drivers, chefs, sales and retail assistants, lower skilled workers in construction and processing plants, and men and women working in social care had significantly high rates of death from COVID-19, and we have evidenced that from the total number of deaths from COVID-19 in the UK.

Most surprisingly among deaths with COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate, a higher percentage mentioned diabetes, hypertensive diseases, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and dementia than all because death certificates. People of BAME communities are likely to be at increased risk of acquiring the infection. This is because BAME people are more likely to live in urban areas, in overcrowded households, in deprived areas, and have jobs that expose them to higher risk. The report also identified that people of Bangladeshi and Pakistani background have higher rates of cardiovascular disease. Data from the National Diabetes Audit suggests that type II diabetes prevalence is higher in people from BAME communities.

Health Care Worker (HCW) are exposed to disease on a daily basis and require close contact with others. Other occupations, such as those working in the emergency services (police, fire, ambulance), social care and educators, and other occupations such as bar staff and hairdressers, also have close contact with others but are less likely to be exposed to people with the disease when compared to HCW (Source: Public Health England, 2020).

I tried to compile few more data from various other sources to make a comparison among the deaths and according to the latest WHO data published in 2017 Diabetes Mellitus Deaths in Bangladesh reached 40,142 or 5.09% of total deaths. The age adjusted Death Rate is 40.08 per 100,000 of population ranks Bangladesh 57 in the world while every week in the UK, 680 people suffer a stroke as a complication of diabetes (one in five strokes is caused by diabetes), 530 people suffer a diabetes-related heart attack, and there are around 2,000 cases of diabetes-related heart failure (Diabetes UK, 2018).

I found another report that state that around 44,000 people under the age of 75 in the UK die from heart and circulatory diseases each year (British Heart Foundation, 2020) while 112,791 people die coronary heath disease in Bangladesh according to World health ranking 2017 report.

The findings from this report evidence that, we already have various health issues and specially the diabetes, hypertensive diseases, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and dementia and we also (mostly according to the report) working on low skills jobs and living in deprived area, we should be more careful dealing with COVID-19. We of course cannot ask family members to live somewhere else, but we surely can take protective measures as we are living in a crowded household.

May be this is a learning for us to consider healthy living seriously and also ensure having a small family. There are certainly many benefits indeed. With a healthy living, we surely can live longer and can have improved immune system and with a small family concept, we can best ensure education for all child which in return can ensure skilled job (I am considering around the world and not in the UK). We also might need to think alternative living and may be the time has come to start living rural not urban.

Afzal Sayed Munna
Lecturer, Module Leader and Programme Coordinator, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, London and UNICAF University, Ireland. Vice-Chair, Newham Barking and Dagenham Liberal Democrats

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