Action against inequality

Understanding impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities.

A new expert group will work with the Scottish Government to provide a clearer picture of the impact on minority ethnic communities of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Following indications that minority ethnic communities may face higher risks from COVID-19, the group will consider evidence and data being gathered by the Scottish Government, Public Health Scotland, National Records of Scotland and the NHS, and advise on policy actions to mitigate any disproportionate effects.

As part of its immediate response to the pandemic, the Scottish Government has provided more than £500,000 to organisations working specifically with minority ethnic communities across Scotland.

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 £2.6 million in the last year.”

Angela Leitch, Chief Executive, 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.”


The Expert Reference Group will consist of academics and other advisers alongside Scottish Government officials.

On 20 May the Scottish Government published additional information from Public Health Scotland which included preliminary analysis of COVID-19 cases among minority ethnic communities.

Public Health Scotland is undertaking a review of the evidence so that there is a robust understanding of how COVID-19 is impacting on minority ethnic communities to inform future action.

To protect minority ethnic staff working in health and social care, new interim guidance for employers was published on 21 May, providing vital information about risk assessments and psychological support. The Scottish Government will also be engaging directly with staff to hear their voices and lived experiences.

A national marketing campaign ran throughout May to help ensure that public health messaging is reaching minority ethnic communities.

To date, 27 organisations that identified minority communities as their primary target client population have been offered £354,000 from the Wellbeing Fund. A further 14 grassroots organisations have received £189,000 from the Immediate Priorities Fund.


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