NHS officials told me Muslim households are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus – it’s important to understand why

As the crisis develops, it’s likely that trauma will spread through communities whose shared culture is built around precisely the things the government has advised against

Shadim Hussain
@ShadimHussain
7 hours ago
Britain’s Muslims are amongst the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic – senior NHS officials have told me that up to a quarter of British people who have died from the disease caused by the virus have been elderly Muslims.

To those inside Muslim communities like me, this is shocking but not surprising. Muslims are particularly vulnerable to the virus and it needs to be recognised more broadly before it is too late. If Muslims feel let down, excluded or forgotten by the government response, there will be repercussions that last longer than the outbreak.

Many Muslims live in extended families, often, like my household, with three generations under one roof. This means there are a higher number of carriers who can (and often will) infect an elderly relative. An older person cannot effectively self-isolate when they are living in close quarters with their children, grand-children and perhaps even extended family.

We are all social creatures, but maybe Muslims are more social than most. We eat together – often from one plate, sharing utensils and side dishes. For many Muslims, social intimacy like handshakes and hugs are so hardwired into their behaviour that the week-old invention of “social distancing” is both alien and absurd to them.

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