People of south Asian heritage admitted to hospital with coronavirus are on average 31 years younger than white British Covid-19 patients, according to a study of inpatients in a town with one of England’s highest infection rates.

Doctors at the Royal Oldham hospital in Greater Manchester found that black and minority ethnic coronavirus patients were mostly far younger than their white counterparts. The average age of those being treated was 71.

The research, which was published this week but has not yet been peer-reviewed, also found that more than two-thirds of the 470 patients with Covid-19 lived in the most deprived parts of Oldham.

Residents in the Greater Manchester town were told on Tuesday to restrict social visits to friends and family for two weeks after the number of coronavirus cases jumped nearly five-fold in the week to 25 July. As in nearby Blackburn with Darwen, the majority of the new cases in Oldham are among mostly younger residents of south Asian heritage and in households with multigenerational families.

Health officials in both towns have advised Muslims to stay at home to celebrate Eid al-Adha later this week and not to attend any open-air events that usually attract thousands of people.

Oldham and Blackburn with Darwen have the two highest infection rates in England, with 53.3 and 85.9 cases per 100,000 people respectively, according to the latest NHS data. Leicester is third on the list ahead of Bradford and Trafford, in Greater Manchester.

The Royal Oldham hospital study looked at 470 patients with Covid-19 who were admitted between 12 March and 19 May. The vast majority (78.3%) of the patients were classed as white British and 12.5% defined as Asian or black African, Caribbean or “other black background”.

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It found the ethnicity of patients or deprivation did not affect the risk of death associated with Covid-19. However, it found that white British people were on average 31 years older than Asian patients and 20 years older than black patients – an age gap apparently greater than that found in previous studies.

A study led by King’s College London in May found that black, Asian and minority ethnic patients tended to be 10 years younger than Caucasian patients on average. Another study found that south Asian hospital patients were on average 12 years younger – and 20% more likely to die – than white British counterparts.

The Oldham research found that old age, hypertension, cancer and acute kidney injury were more likely to lead to death in Covid-19 patients. Of the 470 patients studied, 319 (68%) lived in the most deprived neighbourhoods.

Katrina Stephens, the director of public health for Oldham council, said on Tuesday that most of the 119 new cases in the town involved younger people, aged 20 to 40, and many came from areas of high deprivation.

She said they were likely to be among those in “at-risk occupations”, such as warehouse workers, taxi drivers, those in manufacturing jobs, and health and social care workers.

People in Oldham have been told not to have social visitors beyond those in their support bubbles and that clinically vulnerable people would have to shield for a further two weeks, until 14 August. Care homes in the town will no longer relax visiting restrictions.

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Oldham is the latest local authority to introduce tougher restrictions in an attempt to curb a second rise in coronavirus cases, after Blackburn with Darwen, Rochdale and Wakefield imposed similar measures this month.



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