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Lockdown was "less effective in BAME communities," according to a study by the University of Leicester


Lockdown measures imposed at the end of March to slow the spread of the coronavirus may not have been as effective in black, Asian and ethnic minorities (BAME) due to the one-size-fits-all approach, scientists say.

Scientists at the University of Leicester found that Covid 19 cases in BAME groups in certain parts of Leicester continued to increase in the three weeks after the announcement, while rates in white groups "decreased significantly".

They said the results recently published in The Lancet's EClinicalMedicine magazine raised "serious questions" as to whether the closure alone is effective for a diverse population.

Scientists at the University of Leicester have found that the lockdown measures imposed in March could not stop the increase in coronavirus infections in BAME groups. Above, a sign in Leicester shows residents what measures they should take during the local closure

Dr. Manish Pareek, associate clinical professor of infectious diseases at the University of Leicester, told PA news agency: "Obviously Lockdown has had a huge impact on reducing infection rates, but the question is whether it will be enough for certain parts of the country?

"Lockdown as a whole is a pretty blunt tool. Maybe we should think about a more nuanced approach that allows people to work with local solutions."

Dr. Pareek and his team examined patients admitted to the Leicester NHS Trust's university hospitals.

They found that the proportion of people from BAME groups who tested positive for coronavirus continued to rise for three weeks from March 23, reaching a high of 50.9%. However, the number of people with a white background remained between 24% and 26%.

Dr. Pareek told PA: “Of course we can't be clear about cause and effect, I think, but when we speculate there are a number of factors that could possibly explain these results.

“One would be that people from different ethnic groups work in forward-looking roles and cannot necessarily work from home.

Second, they can be part of large, multi-generational households, which increases the risk of infection, and third, there can be problems as to whether public health news has actually reached these populations (due to language and culture) (barriers). "

University scientists concluded that one size fits all locks in BAME communities is less effective. The picture above shows a residential street in the Highfields region of Leicester, central England, on July 17, 2020, as local restrictions due to an increase in the city's novel corona virus still apply

University scientists concluded that one size fits all locks in BAME communities is less effective. The picture above shows a residential street in the Highfields region of Leicester, central England, on July 17, 2020, as local restrictions due to an increase in the city's novel corona virus still apply

Dr. Pareek said that as recent research shows that severe Covid-19 affects BAME communities disproportionately, there is an "urgent need to confirm a link between ethnicity and the acquisition of Covid-19 infection".

He said that customized public health messages targeting specific BAME groups and targeted contact testing and tracking programs are needed to prepare for future waves.

Dr. Pareek said: "At the moment there may be a unified approach."

He said that although there had been some targeted intervention in Leicester since the region experienced a new outbreak last month, these measures "should have been predicted primarily".

WHAT CAUSED A SPIKE IN LEICESTER?

Government officials, local politicians, and academics initially disagreed whether Leicester experienced a real surge in cases or whether better tests simply consisted of finding more of them where it wasn't before.

It is also not clear whether there are any characteristics of Leicester that make it more likely that an increase will occur in certain cases, or whether accidental coincidences have led to the first "second wave" taking place there.

Experts say that many of the risk factors in Leicester are the same in all major cities in England.

The city's mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, told BBC Radio 4 that a report sent to him by the government actually confirmed that it was very likely that the increase in the number of positives identified was due to increased testing, and indeed it was there may be nothing of great importance for these results. & # 39;

The city's public health director, Ivan Browne, said: “Interestingly, (the increase in cases) it is very much the younger working age population and mostly the eastern part of our city. We have started to see this level through our test program.

“Young people work in many industries across the city. At this stage, we try to collect as much epidemiological information as possible to really try to get to it and gain understanding. I don't think we're seeing a single source or smoking gun at the moment. "

It was always likely that voltage spikes would first appear in cities. There are more people who increase the risk and these people are more likely to live in densely populated areas and come into contact with strangers on a regular basis.

Dr. Shaun Fitzgerald of Cambridge University said: “There will be differences in the ease with which people can maintain physical distances between densely populated areas and rural environments. So it's not surprising to me that we may see localized torches. Oops, which in turn have to be suppressed by delayed relaxation or temporary reintroduction of some restrictions on certain movements and activities. "

Leicester also has a high level of deprivation, which affects people's lives in a way that puts them at risk of getting the virus.

Dr. Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: “In disadvantaged areas, people have to go to work more often, are less able to work from home, and use public transportation more often. You cannot distance yourself from others. & # 39;

The Samworth Brothers sandwich factory in the city reported last weekend that it had diagnosed cases of Covid-19 among its employees.

Food processing factories are at greater risk of transmission because the virus can survive longer in cold environments on hard surfaces and people's airways become more susceptible to infection.

Dr. Clarke added that the type of work people do could increase their risk.

"Blue collar cities are now at higher risk than places like London and Manchester that offer more financial services," he added.

BySam Blanchard Senior Health Reporter for Mailonlineand Tom Pyman and Sam Baker for Mailonline

Local blocks will be lifted in parts of Leicestershire this weekend after a review by public health experts, the government said.

Areas outside of Leicester City and the boroughs of Oadby and Wigston will comply with the national blocking rules in England from Saturday.

From July 18, shops, bars, restaurants and hairdressers that are not strictly necessary and that are not in the continued protection zone will be allowed to open.

Schools and childcare facilities outside the protected area can also be opened from the same date, according to national restrictions.

Minister of Health Matt Hancock thanked the people of Leicester for following the public health advice and said: “I know that the past two weeks have been difficult for people in and around Leicester, especially for those who have provided protection for so many weeks.

"Although we are not yet able to lift all of the existing restrictions, we can now take prudent steps to allow areas outside of Leicester City and the Oadby and Wigston counties to keep up with national guidelines and introduce some easing within the city of Leicester and of the boroughs of Oadby and Wigston.

"I understand that this will be frustrating in areas where there are additional restrictions, and I am determined to deal with all of you. We will ease the restrictions as soon as the data show that this is safe. "

Non-essential shops and schools in Leicester City and the Oadby and Wigston Districts may not be reopened until July 24th, as there is a higher prevalence of corona viruses in these two areas.

Bars, restaurants and hairdressers in these areas must remain closed and should be checked on August 1st.

The government said the shielding recommendation remains in place across the Leicester area, even where restrictions have been relaxed.

The changes in measures resulted from a decrease in the 7-day infection rate and the percentage of people who tested positive for Covid-19, but warned against staying above the national average.

According to data released on Friday, the rate of new coronavirus cases in Leicester per 100,000 population fell from 126.1 in the seven days to July 7 to 92.9 in the seven days to July 14.

It was 132.3 in the seven days through June 30.

People were reminded to continue to distance themselves socially, to wash their hands regularly, to isolate themselves and to be tested to see if they develop symptoms of a coronavirus.

The Mayor of Leicester condemned Matt Hancock for taking a "sledgehammer approach" to the city's closure, and accused the government of "partisan" goals after the restrictions focused on areas devoted to Labor and the Lib Dems are operated.

The health minister announced yesterday evening that as of Friday, July 24, only schools and kindergartens can be reopened, while the rest of the city still faces a number of restrictions on their freedom.

Under the plans, local councils would be empowered to close unnecessary shops, pubs and restaurants would remain closed, and restrictions on non-essential travel and only social gatherings of up to six would remain in place pending further review in a fortnight.

In an urgent statement in front of the House of Commons, Hancock said the coronavirus infection rate in the city is still too high to unblock.

Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby criticized the decision to maintain restrictions in the Labor-led city of Leicester and Liberal-controlled Oadby and Wigson.

He said, “You decided to focus on the city's geographic area – effectively the area of ​​the county where Labor is elected, and that's just scandalous.

“If they changed the border, they would have had to go to the area where they now know where the virus is.

The Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, reacts when he remotely watches tonight's announcement by Health Minister Matt Hancock

The Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, reacts when he remotely watches tonight's announcement by Health Minister Matt Hancock

“You left two areas there – one with a Liberal Democratic Council and one with a Labor Mayor.

The fact is that they have focused in a way that is clearly partisan, and that is not a way to deal with the virus.

"This is not a way to deal with people who will be very angry and very frustrated that they will be punished for the way they choose."

He continued, “Of course, I am determined to continue to focus on what the data is telling us now – to continue to focus on the neighborhoods, the streets, the households where we now know that the virus exists.

“They are ready not only to punish this city, but also to punish its economy.

“Because right at the beginning there were commitments from the Foreign Minister that there would be a financial package – a compensation system – for our companies that would be withheld.

“Now, two weeks later, he still doesn't keep that promise.

"Obviously, that's a big concern for me and those who care about the future well-being of this city."

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