Taskforce launches to help reduce COVID-19 transmission in South Asian communities in Mississauga

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A new Taskforce has been launched for the South Asian communities in the Region of Peel.

To help address the transmission of COVID-19 among South Asian communities, a network of physicians, lawyers, healthcare professionals, business leaders, and volunteers from all backgrounds and faiths have come together to the launch the Canadian South Asian COVID-19 Taskforce.

According to a release, this non-political organization is focused on raising awareness of the socio-economic barriers that are contributing to the high rate of spread in the South Asian community and addressing the challenges faced by the community through education.

This purpose of the Taskforce is to urge all levels of government to take action in providing more meaningful solutions to stop the spread of COVID-19 in marginalized populations.

The release also states that the South Asian community makes up a third of the population on the Region of Peel, but currently represents almost half of the new positive COVID-19 cases reported.

Many members of the South Asian communities are essential workers and provide Canadians with important services in high-risk sectors such as food supply, healthcare as well as transportation and logistics, the release says.

Many members live in multi-generational homes, have underlying health conditions and are also concerned with the stigma of COVID-19 testing.

"The current mainstream modes of public health messaging as been ineffective in addressing the issues of COVID-19 in South Asian communities, which face complex challenges that are further exacerbated by the virus," says Dr. Raj Grewal and Dr. Simerpreet Sandhanwalia, co-founders of the Canadian South Asian COVID-19 Taskforce.

"Our grassroots organization will focus on reducing the transmission of COVID-19 through evidence-based education, public health advocacy and community outreach."

The Taskforce aims to educate public health officials and policymakers within the Region of Peel in Ontario and the Fraser Health Authority in British Columbia on the drivers of COVID-19 transmission and the challenges faced by South Asian communities.

The release states that the task force believes the high-risk, marginalized communities can be supported with greater and different modes of testing facilities, improved education for worker safety, enforcement of non-compliant businesses and access to financial support for essential workers who are unable to work as a result of contracting the virus.

"So many members of the South Asian community work in essential services and a high proportion of our community does not have the ability to work from home due to the nature of the work," says Guri Pannu, a strategic leader with the Canadian South Asian COVID-19 Taskforce.

"These high-risk communities will continue to feel the brunt of a lack of investment in access to quality healthcare and the heightened risks associated with being an essential worker during the pandemic."

For more information about The Taskforce, click here.  

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