THE harrowing effect of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic on the BAME community has been laid bare.

During a five-month period between October and February there were 206 burials in the Muslim section of Pleasington Cemetery.

The total number of burials at the cemetery was 313 during the same period.

In addition to there were 27 ash burials of those people who were cremated.

The cemetery as a whole saw burials rise from 396 in 2019 to 577 in 2020.

Sayyed Osman, strategic director of adults and health at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said it was vital people continued to follow the safety guidanc despite a drastic fall in the number of deaths in March.

Earllier this month members of the Blackburn Muslim Burial Society (BMBS) shared the positive news that there had been no burials in the Muslim section for a seven-day period for the first time since September.

In February there had been 40 deaths and in March (up to March 29) there had been five.

All ethnic minority groups had a higher risk of dying with Covid-19 than white British people in the first wave, according to a study of 28.9 million people in private households in England.

In the first wave, people of black African background had the highest age-standardised Covid-19 mortality rates – with the rate for black African men 4.49 times higher than the rate for men of white British ethnicity.

In the second wave, South Asian ethnic groups had a greater risk of death with coronavirus compared to white British people.

Mr Osman said: “It is encouraging that levels of deaths are falling across all our local communities.

“Every face covering, every 20 seconds spent washing hands, every video call instead of meeting up in person is making a difference, and my thanks go to everyone who has played their part.

“The borough’s vaccination programme is proving successful too and, together with the current lockdown measures, is helping us to take control of virus rates here in Blackburn with Darwen.

“I particularly want to thank the community leaders, GPs, pharmacists, scholars and imams who have recorded personal messages to help address community concerns and to confirm that the vaccine is safe and can be taken by the Muslim community.

“But we absolutely cannot relax yet. As restrictions are gradually eased in line with the government’s roadmap, it’s going to be a very tense time – particularly as we approach Ramadan when more people will be going to mosque to pray.

“It is vital that we all continue to follow the safety guidance in all settings. We all have a responsibility to each other.

“If people fall ill during this blessed month, it could mean not being able to fast or pray for several weeks. Anyone becoming seriously ill will impact on the whole household.

“Too many local families have tragically lost loved ones before their time.”

In February it was also revealed how across the UK, people from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds continued to experience an “alarming” higher risk of dying with coronavirus throughout both waves of the pandemic.

The death rate for men and women from a Pakistani background was 4.81 and 4.62 times higher respectively than that for white British men and women.

The death rate for men and women from a Bangladeshi background was 4.11 and 3.98 times higher respectively than that for white British men and women.

Ex Mayor Salim Mulla warned, "Some restrictions have been lifted to try and get back to some normality, but the community needs to remember that the infection level is still the double of national average.

"The lifting of the sanction is not license to move freely. We can not be complacent with the lifting of sanctions, we all need to follow the Government guidance, we certainly do not want to see a increase and a third wave like Europe. Please take responsibilities."