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London View | Have More Indians Died in Britain than in India? Funeral Homes Tell the Story

Representative image. (Reuters)

Representative image. (Reuters)

If even fairly close to 10,000 of those in serious condition in hospitals have been from the minorities, a very large number among them would be Indians considering that Indians are the second largest minority in Britain.

London: Could more Indians have died of coronavirus in Britain than in India? So that, speaking at a time when the official tally of coronavirus deaths in India is under a thousand, the number of deaths of people of Indian origin in Britain could be a thousand or more? The question is not answered by official figures because such origins are not being recorded, not for immediate release anyhow. But medical studies in Britain point decidedly that way.

Look at the numbers so far, and how they add up — without putting two and two (or more) together. By Sunday Britain was reporting 20,732 coronavirus deaths in hospitals across the country. That number is missing three counts: the number who have died in care homes and in homes, and deaths not officially registered as coronavirus-related. No one has put an estimate to the last, but the number of those who have died in homes and care homes has varyingly been estimated to be 10 to 50 percent above the official figure. We could therefore be speaking at the conservative minimum, of at least 23,000 deaths in Britain thus far.

Within that consider the number of members of the minorities affected.

“Members of the minorities are at far more serious risk of illness from coronavirus,” Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the British Medical Association tells CNN-News18. “About 40 percent of intensive care beds in the UK are occupied by patients from minority backgrounds, that includes black people, and Asians, of which a large number are Indians.”

The number who have been in intensive care is no doubt not the same as the number of the dead, as the case of Prime Minister Boris Johnson happily illustrates. But equally, there is no suggestion from anywhere that Indians or other minority people have a faster track of recovering than anyone else once in intensive care. That figure of about 40 percent is indicative of the extent and the seriousness with which minority people in Britain are proportionately affected. Nobody suggests that this figure is going in some direction other than the total death toll.

The 40 per cent figure suggests something like 10,000 deaths among the minorities within the total death toll of at least 23,000, given an indicative correlation between the numbers proportionately in intensive care and those who have died.

If even fairly close to 10,000 of those in serious condition in hospitals have been from the minorities, a very large number among them would be Indians considering that Indians, with a population of about 1.5 million, are the second largest minority in Britain after black people who are an estimated 1.9 million. The official population of Pakistanis is about a million, that of Bangladeshis just under half a million.

The South Asian lot among these, about half of them Indians, are for a start “twice as likely to be hospitalised compared to a white person,” says Dr Nagpaul. The hospitalised share of this lot point to an Indian toll likely to be in the region of a thousand. This would be a conservative estimate – with two out of five in intensive care from the minorities, this estimate suggests that only one in ten among those who are dying is of Indian origin. The number could well be significantly higher.

The pattern of the spread of the virus points ominously that way. London is by far the concentrated epicentre of this epidemic. In further concentration within London, some of the biggest long-running outbreaks have been in areas heavily populated by Indians. Brent that includes the very Indian Wembley, Harrow, Ealing that includes Southall, have been among the most severely hit areas in London, in all of the UK that is.

Brent has topped the dubious table of the highest number of case in relation to population for weeks now, and by a long way. Northwick Park, the catchment area hospital for this and adjoining areas has been deluged with patients, and deaths.

These have included a very large number of Indians. Evidence of that comes through the demands for funeral services from Indian families and in the demand for priests to carry out last rites.

Funeral homes, temples and gurdwaras have all been reporting a very high number of Indian deaths. Just about every Indian knows people who have died, and knows of many more people who have. Such anecdotal reports do not in themselves add up to a scientific figure. But within the scientific and statistical reports coming from the hospitals, the anecdotal reports piling up give a felt dimension to the huge loss that the Indian community in Britain, and in London particularly, is facing after day.

Proportionately, this is without doubt a massively higher toll than within India. It’s alarming that a comparison such as this should be considered at all — we would be considering about a thousand deaths in all within a population of 1.2 billion in India, and about as many within a population of 1.5 million in Britain. A more or less equal number would mean a thousand-fold higher death rate among Indians in Britain.

first published:April 27, 2020, 09:29 IST