UPDATE: The report has now been published and reveals a large disparity between BAME and White British people in both the infection and death rate.
The Public Health England (PHE) report was due to be released "by the end of May", but was held back for the first time, according to government sources, because it was not ready to be published. Whitehall sources told Sky News that the second delay is down to the report being in "close proximity to the current situation in America", and could be a "bad combination" – the implication being it will further stoke racial tension in the UK following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests in cities across the US.
However, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Ministers received initial findings today (Monday). They are being rapidly considered and a report will be published this week. It is not true to say this has been delayed due to global events."
Data shows that, up to the 5th of May, the number of deaths per 100,000 was 33 for Asian people and 36 for white people, jumping to 56 for black people and 59 for people from other ethnic minority backgrounds. The PHE report was commissioned by Health Secretary Matt Hancock to examine why BAME people are dying disproportionately from Covid-19.
In response to the delay, shadow equality secretary Marsha de Cordova said: "It is unacceptable that this review should be delayed without a given date for its publication. BAME communities need answers. There is a gross irony in delaying the release of a report into the unequal suffering of the BAME community, on the basis of global events that relate to the suffering of black communities around the world.
"If anything, recent events make the release of this report all the more urgent. If the government is serious about tackling racial injustice, they should not be shying away from understanding into why these injustices exist."
Public Health England have said the review will be published "shortly".