BLACK, Asian and other ethnic minority workers may be taken off the front line as emerging evidence suggests they face a higher risk of death if they contract coronavirus.

Black and minority ethnic (BME) staff may be moved away from face-to-face consultations and some may need to wear more personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise their exposure to the virus.

A review by Public Health England into the impact of Covid-19 on front line workers from ethnic minority backgrounds is currently underway.

This comes as data shows a disproportionate number of deaths from coronavirus among BME health and social care workers.

Bury Council chief executive Geoff Little confirmed that local data mirrors the figures from the national data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

He said: “We’ve only had some initial data from ONS on this which indicates that we in Bury are in line with the national data at the moment which is starting to show a disproportionate impact on black, Asian and Minority ethnic communities but we haven’t had enough data, or frankly enough time, to analyse why in Bury that may be.

“So you have seen lots of media reports on this, how it’s both affecting then workforce and the population and we have no more insight than others do nationally.

“But rest assured that it’s something which we want to understand fully and in planning our recovery factor that understanding into our recovery planning.

“But I really do stress at the moment we only have very headline figures and we haven’t got a real understanding, in my view, in Bury at least, of why the figures are the way they are.”

Guidance on workplace risk assessments, taking ethnicity into account, has been sent to GP practices across Greater Manchester this week.

Councillors on the health scrutiny committee quizzed Bury bosses about the impact of COVID-19 on those from BME backgrounds at a meeting on May 14.

Dr Jeff Schryer, who chairs Bury NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG), is a GP at Whittaker Lane Medical Centre in Prestwich.

He said: “When you look at Greater Manchester there’s clearly a disproportion.

“Whether that’s because of the ethnicity or whether there’s a higher rate of morbidity within that group or lower socio-economic class, it’s difficult to know and Public Health England are doing a lot of work around that.

“Having said that, Greater Manchester is in the process of building on some work done nationally in terms of risk assessing workers to talk to them about who should be in the front line.

“That also ties in with some of the work that’s being done around anti-body testing as well.

“So, there’s a definite recognition that there’s a disproportionate sensitivity here.

“It’s just how we adjust to that and what the impact on the workforce will be. It’s very much in our minds at the moment.”