Coronavirus outbreak’s impact on BAME communities to be assessed by experts

An expert group is to be established to study the effects of Covid-19 on minority ethnic communities in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister announced the move as she revealed seven more people have died of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the first increase in deaths in Scotland since Saturday.

A total of 2,422 patients have died in the country after testing positive for coronavirus, up from 2,415 on Monday, while 15,653 people have tested positive for the virus, a rise of 14 from 15,639 the day before.

There are 1,011 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a decrease of 31, and 21 patients in intensive care, a decrease of three.

Despite the rise in deaths, Ms Sturgeon said the figure is still a “further indication of a clear downward trend” in the number of people dying with the virus.

The First Minister announced she is establishing a new expert reference group made up of academics and Scottish Government officials who will consider evidence of Covid-19 in Scotland to asses the impact on minority ethnic communities.

She said Public Health Scotland’s preliminary analysis does not appear to show people from ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 in terms of the impact on their health.

But she said findings in other parts of the UK have been different.

The First Minister said people from BAME backgrounds could be disproportionately affected by the social and economic impact of coronavirus.

“The Scottish Government has already allocated more than £500,000 to organisations that work  directly with ethnic minority groups across Scotland,” she said.

“But we know we may well need to do more. For that reason I am establishing a new expert reference group made up of academics and other advisers.”

The group will be able to make recommendations to ministers on what can be done to address any problems.

Ms Sturgeon said: “It’s always essential at any time to listen to people from our ethnic minority communities, to work with them and to ensure that the polices we adopt and implement don’t have disproportionate and adverse consequences.

“It is, however, especially important at this time.”

Speaking during Carers’ Week, Ms Sturgeon also highlighted the role of unpaid carers, saying the pandemic had “demonstrated again the importance of what you do”.

The First Minister went on to reveal initial data from the Scottish Government’s Test and Protect contact tracing system will be published on Wednesday.

That will include how many positive cases of Covid-19 have been identified through the scheme and how many people have had contacts traced.

Ms Sturgeon said at this stage the data provided will be at a national level, though she said regional data could be disclosed in the weeks ahead.

She also stressed anyone with symptoms of the virus should “immediately” book a coronavirus test.

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