Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom are at a disproportionate risk of contracting COVID-19, the often-fatal respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
That’s according to Zimbabwe’s embassy in London, which told Sky News that at least 37 Zimbabwe nationals have died of the disease in the country since the start the pandemic earlier this year.
Highly trained doctors and nurses from the Southern African country have long been the targets of recruitment for the UK’s National Health Service, which oversees Britain’s public hospitals. It’s an occupation that, in times of pandemic, carries potentially lethal risks for those who take the posts.
Embassy officials say the majority of Zimbabweans who have died in the country were working in health or social work positions, both of which are considered front-line jobs that carried a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19.
Racial disparities in COVID-19 infection rates are widespread across the industrialized West, with white residents in many country’s significantly less likely than racial minorities to contract the virus.
The race-gap can also be observed in health outcomes, with non-white patients more likely to die or experience serious symptoms than their counterparts.
Zimbabweans are estimated to form only 0.3% of the UK’s ‘front-line’ workforce, but the figures presented by Harare’s embassy would suggest that they account for nearly 10% of front-line workers who have died from the virus.