Somali experiences of first wave Caabuqa-corona: an analysis of high COVID-19 mortality and infection levels in London’s East End, 2020

by Farah Bede and Joanna Lewis

10 Mar 2023
Journal of the British Academy, volume 11 (2023)
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Abstract: This article focuses on the experiences of a minoritised black Muslim community in London during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020. It shows that many Somali families, living in a high-density area of the East End, experienced acutely high infection and death rates from late March. The reasons for this were found to be late lockdown, a top-down community-insensitive public health approach, and the way that many of the work force were in highly vulnerable occupations. However, high rates were then prolonged due to the legacy of historic poverty, housing density and institutional racism. Culture and locally specific responses were less significant factors but overall had a positive impact in mitigation. However, the situation with regard to mental health remains bleak. This research suggests more trained Somali health experts, community sensitive data, trauma informed care, and use of local networks could help reduce future vulnerabilities and health poverty.

Keywords: COVID-19, Somalis, London, health-inequalities, racism.

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