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09 June 2020
Sturgeon announces advisory group on impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities


Sturgeon announces advisory group on impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities

Academics and Scottish Government officials will make recommendations on policy actions to address inequalities

The Scottish Government has announced an expert group to examine the impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minority communities in Scotland.

Academics and Scottish Government officials will consider evidence gathered by Public Health Scotland, National Records of Scotland and the NHS and will make recommendations on policy actions to address inequalities.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that she hoped the group would “take full account of the needs and experiences of our ethnic minority communities.”

Public Health Scotland published preliminary evidence in May from an investigation into the adverse impact of COVID-19 on minority communities, finding “no signal of increased risk of COVID-19 to people from an ethnic minority in Scotland”.

However, the study acknowledged that “low volume and incomplete data limits the conclusion we can draw at this time.”

Sturgeon noted that other studies from around the UK and other parts of the world did find evidence of ethnic minorities having worse health outcomes, as well as being hit harder by the economic impact of the lockdown.

She also said that the Scottish Government may add additional funding on top of the £500,000 already awarded to organisations that work with ethnic minority communities.

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said: “The Scottish Government is deeply concerned by reports that suggest people from ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 both in terms of health and wider social and economic impacts.

“Although the current analysis in Scotland appears to show that there is not a higher level of COVID-19 cases than would be expected, I understand that many people will be anxious about protecting themselves and their families. I want to reassure them that we are taking this issue extremely seriously.

“We are working to better understand the data on how the pandemic is impacting on our minority ethnic communities in Scotland so we can take the appropriate action and this new group will use their expertise to challenge, inform and shape future work.

“Equality and human rights issues such as this are at the heart of our policy response to the impacts of COVID-19, and in particular in our recovery and renewal work. This is part of our wider work to advance race equality, backed by over £2.6m in the last year.”

Angela Leitch, chief executive of Public Health Scotland said: “Understanding whether minority ethnic communities are at greater risk from COVID-19 is a crucial part of our response to the virus, particularly in light of reports from other parts of the UK and across the world.

“Public Health Scotland is undertaking work to review the available evidence understand emerging patterns including comparisons between the situation in Scotland and other parts of the UK.

“We are also working with National Records of Scotland and the Scottish Government to analyse and report on the impact of COVID-19 by ethnicity. Working with other members of the expert group, our evidence and data will enable the development of an effective evidence-based response and ensure the health of all of Scotland’s communities is protected.”

Scottish Greens Co-Leader Patrick Harvie MSP said: “I commend the STUC Black Workers Committee, whose letter I highlighted at First Minister’s Questions last week, for drawing attention to the importance of adequately assessing the impact of Covid19 on Scotland’s BAME communities.

"While I welcome the First Minister’s commitment to establishing this expert group, I am concerned that it seems only limited analysis has been undertaken to date and I urge the Scottish Government to ensure that the group has all the resources it needs to undertake the analysis required as quickly as possible.”

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