'Growing evidence' coronavirus is having 'disproportionate' impact on ethnic minority communities

The Health Minister Vaughan Gething has called for an "urgent investigation" into why there appears to be a disproportionate number of people from BAME backgrounds at risk of coronavirus.

At a press briefing in Cardiff, Mr Gething there needs to be an "urgent investigation" into why this is the case.

"We need to investigate why people from BAME backgrounds appear to be more at risk and what factors are involved", he told the briefing.

He said a team from Welsh Government will be working with Public Health Wales to "gather evidence and data to establish whether there are any identifiable risks or avoidable factors."

He added, "This will help to inform decisions as to whether we need to give more tailored advice to people from black Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds to help protect them, their families and their communities."

There have already been calls for an investigation into the high number of minority ethnic groups dying from coronavirus - both on the frontline and the general public.

The first three casualties on the NHS frontline in Wales were black or ethnic minority. Across the UK, the first ten doctors to die were all from minority backgrounds.

  • Watch the press conference here live

On the issue of personal protective equipment for frontline staff, Mr Gething said it is his "number one priority" to ensure people have the kit they need.

"There is an enormous amount of work going on behind the scenes", he said.

"Healthcare workers are facing a disproportionate risk - they need PPE to be confident and to know they are protected, but they are still at a higher risk than you or I."

He said the two items under highest demand are fluid resistant gowns and masks - but he reassured that there is enough PPE available for all staff.

"48.3 million items of PPE have been issued to health staff in Wales", he said.

"More than 40% of NHS pandemic stock has gone to social care. Coronavirus has put supplies of PPE under pressure around the world - some of our regular international suppliers have cancelled contracts, others are taking longer to arrive. We are working hard to establish new supply routes and are expecting weekly bulk deliveries of masks."

He also said no health board in Wales will be penalised for their spending during the pandemic.