People from a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background could be at a higher risk of experiencing COVID-19 complications, according to an NHS report.

The Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) document states that nearly a third of people who were critically ill with coronavirus were from BAME backgrounds. This is out of proportion with the UK’s general population, with 13% of people being from BAME communities, according to the last census.

The report was based on 2,249 people who have contracted COVID-19. Out of these, 14% described themselves as Asian, another 14% described themselves as black and 7% described themselves as other.

Professors Kamlesh Khunti and Wasim Hanif from the South Asian Health Foundation (SAHF), first highlighted that these groups could face a greater chance of becoming severely unwell with coronavirus compared to white people based on anecdotal evidence.

This was after hearing about the disproportionate numbers of younger South Asian people who were critically ill with the virus from colleagues working in intensive care units.

Professor Khunti, a professor in primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “We have been concerned about this issue based on anecdotal reports and now this data is showing a signal regarding what we have been saying.

“This is a signal but at this stage, that’s all it is. We now need more data, so we are therefore embarking on a mission to learn more through research.”

Professor Hanif is a Professor of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Consultant Physician and Clinical Service Lead in diabetes at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and also a SAHF trustee.

He said: “We urge everyone to respect the government’s public health messages. By following some simple measures, we all have the best chance of staying healthy, and in doing so, help ease the pressure on the NHS.”

There have been recent reports of people flouting the self-isolation guidelines that the government have brought into action, possibly putting more people at risk, and raising the question of whether stricter measures will be brought into play.

In order to reduce the spread of the virus, everyone should stay home as much as possible. For more information, and the official guidelines, please refer to the Government website.

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