TORONTO - The Region of Peel continually emerges at a Covid-19 “hotspot”. Is there a reason for this? Available data shows the rate of transmission for Covid-19 is higher in urban centres and municipalities. The positivity rate in the Region of Peel is over 10% and even higher in Brampton at 13% (Graph 1).
The evidence suggests that individuals from lower-income areas and densely populated neighbourhoods are disproportionately affected. Brampton, also has a lot of multi-generational homes. These households consist of two or more generations living under the same roof. Some other factors contribute to the elevated rates within those affected areas. Many residents are employed as essential workers in high-risk sectors. These include jobs in food processing, healthcare, transportation and logistics. This type of employment is essential to the economic lifeblood of a community.
The nature of the work does not allow the employees to work from home. Moreover, many have limited sick leave options. This can be a tough situation when feeling unwell and trying to provide for your family. Another factor to consider is that Peel is home to an ethnically and linguistically diverse population.
According to the 2016 census, 62% of respondents identified as belonging to a visible minority group (Graph 2).
Among the top three in that category in Peel are the South Asian community at 50.8%, followed by the Black community at 15.3% and the Chinese at 7.5%. According to Peel Public Heath, visible minorities made up 82% of Peel’s Covid-19 cases (Graph 3).
There seems to be a need for better awareness on how to cope with Covid-19 among different cultural communities. The information is available through mainstream media, but it does not seem to be reaching them. Communities that face socio-economic, linguistic and cultural barriers experience challenges in accessing otherwise readily available public health messages.
So, Peel Region established a local branch of the Canadian South Asian Covid-19 Taskforce. Its goal is to draw attention to the issues that contribute to the high positivity rate within the community. The Taskforce is comprised of physicians, healthcare professionals, lawyers, business and community leaders together with volunteers. The mission of the organization is to reduce the transmission of the virus through evidence-based education, public health advocacy and community outreach.
That may not be easy because the reality that a large number of people from these communities live in multi-generational homes. It can be extremely difficult for individuals to effectively self-isolate within such households; thus, making transmission more likely.