Camden investigates disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME groups, while data shows Kentish Town and Gospel Oak hardest hit by virus deaths

Cllr Abdul Hai. Picture: Polly Hancock

Cllr Abdul Hai. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

The most deprived areas of Camden are also the hardest hit by coronavirus, ONS data shows – while the town hall has committed to an investigation into the disproportionate impact of the disease on its Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) residents.

The four areas identified as having had the most Covid-19 deaths between March 1 and May 31 – Kentish Town West, Kilburn East, Chalk Farm and Somers Town – are all among the bottom 30 per cent of areas in terms of deprivation.

The data uses “medium super output areas” (MSOAs) to divide the borough, these are areas of between 7,000 and 11,000 residents.

So while there have been 16 Covid-19 deaths in Kentish Town West, 13 in Kilburn East, 12 in Chalk Farm and 10 in Somers Town, there were only 2 coronavirus deaths reported in the period in Hampstead and Belsize Park, and none at all in Frognal and Fitzjohn’s.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Haringey isn’t facing lockdown, council confirms after flawed reportsThe 16 deaths in the Kentish Town West area – which covers from Queen’s Crescent in the west to Islip Road in the east, and Gordon House Road in the north to Castle Road in the south – made up more than half (53pc) of all deaths in the area during the three month period.

The wards with the highest percentage of “shielders” – those who have been told to remain indoors as they have underlying conditions or are in a high-risk group, are Hampstead, where there are 386 shielders (4.2pc of the population) and in Kilbrun where there are 404 (3.6pc). Government support for shielders is set to end at the end of July.

In Camden deprivation tends to map onto the most diverse areas – council wards such as King’s Cross, Kilburn, and St Pancras and Somers Town have the lowest proportion of people identifying their ethnicity as White British.

Building on the Public Health England investigation which found he proportion of BAME patients the highest rates of diagnosis of Covid-19 were in Black ethnic groups, the town hall is now running its own investigation into the disproportionate impact.

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The council’s leader Cllr Georgia Gould (Lab, Kentish Town) said: “Covid-19 has exposed how deeply entrenched injustice and inequality impacts our Black, Asian and minority communities. We have been working as a council and community to address racism and inequality, but the loss and trauma of the last few months calls on us to listen, learn and take comprehensive action.”

READ MORE: Sprinters complain at ‘racial profiling’ after Madia Vale police stop goes viralCllr Abdul Hai, who co-chairs the town hall working group into BAME inequalities amid the pandemic, said: “The inequalities that unfortunately exist in Camden have always worried us, and this virus is only exacerbating those fears.

“One of the tragedies of COVID-19 has been the disproportionate number of deaths among black and ethnic minority people - people of Bangladeshi ethnicity have twice the risk of dying from COVID-19 than people of white British ethnicity. Other ethnicities have between 10% and 50% higher risk of death when also compared to people who are white British.”

Anna Wright from Healthwatch Camden added: “Evidence of the [disproportionate] impact is being felt in everyday life, on the health and wellbeing of Camden’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic residents, including a reduction in the number of people accessing health services and deteriorating mental health, which has led to high levels of anxiety.”

Yusuf Deerow, who chairs the Somali Youth Development Resource Centre based in the borough added: “Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are overrepresented in high-risk occupations, from construction to care, and are being asked to place themselves and their families at greater risk returning to workplaces soonest.”

In late June, the town hall’s Health and Wellbeing board were told

n The proportion of BAME patients to be suspected of having COVID-19 (39pc) is significantly higher than the proportion of BAME people registered with Camden GPs (32pc).

n Camden had 103 Covid-19 deaths between March 20 and April 27, significantly less than in Barnet (324), or Haringey (182).

n Across the North Central London CCG area – Camden, Islington, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey – just under half of all deaths in those born in the UK reported between March 20 and April 27 were due to Covid-19. In people born in Africa, almost 65pc of deaths were due to the virus.

Camden’s investigation hopes to identify the issues faced by BAME groups and develop actions to combat them.