Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people with coronavirus should not be stigmatised, a shadow cabinet minister said ahead of the publication of postcode-level data on those who have tested positive.
Ministers are pushing ahead with the release of data despite councils’ concerns that the plan, originally revealed by HuffPost UK, could lead to people in certain neighbourhoods being stigmatised and damage community cohesion.
Lisa Nandy said that the country needs to have “a conversation” about how coronavirus is affecting BAME communities, amid suggestions that south Asian populations in places such as Leicester and Blackburn are bearing the brunt of new infections.
And she stressed that the “key thing” was “making the data available to those who need it”, including local public health directors.
But Nandy suggested the government could learn from South Korea’s approach, where after initial issues with social stigma those who self isolate are now hailed by the state as heroes.
The shadow foreign secretary also revealed that the local public health director for her Wigan constituency was against the kind of street-by-street lockdown measures proposed by some in light of postcode-level data.
She told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast: “What you absolutely cannot do is stigmatise people who test positive for Covid.
“They have to feel that they can be as forthcoming as possible with people who are trying to trace and that they’re not going to stigmatise other people – friends and family that they have been in contact with – so they share that information and so that, then, people are able to follow these guidelines without then feeling it’s going to have a negative impact on them.
“The South Koreans, who dealt with this very early on, that is the absolute number one lesson that they said came out of it.