Language barrier in Bradford ‘putting lives at risk’ in pandemic

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BRADFORD: Lives are being put at risk because people who do not speak English are struggling to understand coronavirus guidelines and many people in Bradford believed false information instead of relying on accurate sources, Dr Uzma Quereshi has said.

A community worker said some people had caught Covid-19 as they thought the pandemic was being “exaggerated”. The government and Bradford council said guidelines had been translated into multiple languages.

Bradford, along with the rest of West Yorkshire, is currently in tier three – the second highest level of coronavirus restrictions. The city had one of the highest infection rates in the country for a number of weeks in the autumn, with some 29,000 people testing positive since the start of the pandemic – equivalent to one in 20.

According to a BBC report, Dr Quereshi, from the Manor Medical Practice in Allerton, said many non-English speakers did not understand the severity of the virus, adding: “Even now, despite the number of deaths in Bradford, there is still a lot of misinformation out there and with the introduction of the vaccine, there’s talk of distrust.

“The challenge is making sure we get the right information out in a way so that people who do not speak English understand what they can and can’t do.”

Salia Sadiq, a counsellor and trustee of Milan Centre in Manningham, works with women who speak very little English, and said there had been “a lot of fake news going around the community”. She said a group of Pakistani women from the city had contracted the virus after going on a shopping trip together, because they thought “people were exaggerating” about the pandemic.

“Because of the language, not being able to understand the message being conveyed, they thought everything was fine,” Ms Sadiq said.