Survey reveals bigger impacts of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and restriction measures on wellbeing of Black, Asian and minority ethnic residents in Wales

Feelings of anxiety and isolation during Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are more common in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) residents in Wales, according to findings released by Public Health Wales.

Each week Public Health Wales has been conducting interviews with hundreds of people aged 18 or over across Wales, to understand how Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the measures to prevent its spread are affecting the wellbeing of people in Wales.

Public Health Wales has analysed the data from its weekly wellbeing surveys (covering the period of 13 April – 24 May) to better understand how Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and measures to prevent its spread may be affecting people of different ethnicities.

This latest report from Public Health Wales on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) shows people from BAME backgrounds reporting higher rates of anxiety and feelings of isolation, with a third (33 per cent) of BAME respondents saying they felt isolated compared with less than a quarter (22 per cent) of those not in the BAME group. However, data also suggested that more BAME people have increased practices such as mindfulness (19 per cent BAME compared to 7 per cent of those not in the BAME group) to address these feelings.

Amongst major concerns for BAME respondents were finances, with 22 per cent worrying ‘a lot’ about their financial situation; and 17% about job loss and job availability (compared to 11 per cent of those not in the BAME group). Furthermore, 28 per cent of BAME respondents said they were worrying ‘a lot’ about their own mental health, a higher rate than those not in the BAME group (19 per cent).

In addition to the ethnicity findings, Public Health Wales has also released the week seven findings from its wellbeing survey, which focuses on recovery (people’s views on how Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) related measures could be eased or strengthened in the coming weeks and months).

Key findings for the period covering 18 to 24 May 2020 include continued support for restrictions in place across Wales with 72 per cent of people saying they are about right. One in ten people wear face masks most of the time when going out but half (52 per cent) think people should be made to wear face masks as current restrictions are lifted. Just over half (51 per cent) of respondents support non-essential workers returning to work in the next three weeks.

Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy and International Health at Public Health Wales said: “It’s extremely important for us to understand how Coronavirus and the current restrictions to prevent its spread are affecting people, and particularly how it may be affecting people differently, depending on their ethnicity, age, gender or financial background.

“Concerns in different communities about risks of infection, continued isolation and impacts on job security are also key considerations as restrictions to control the spread of the virus are eased. Some individuals and communities can suffer both higher risks from infection and greater concerns about the impacts of continued restrictions on their livelihoods.

“The information provided from our surveys is intended to identify such groups and help ensure their needs are considered in the support provided during restrictions and when restrictions are eased.”

The survey is part of a raft of measures being implemented by Public Health Wales to support public health and wellbeing through Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Other measures implemented have also included the recent launch of Public Health Wales’ ‘How are you doing?’ wellbeing campaign, created to support the people of Wales to look after their wellbeing and to ensure public health is protected during the isolation period.