Black, Asian, and minority ethnic patients face a disproportionately high risk of death from coronavirus, new data shows, as officials announced the lowest daily death toll for a fortnight.

NHS England figures reveal that of the 13,918 patients in hospital who tested positive for Covid-19 up to April 17, 16.2 per cent were of BAME backgrounds, despite these communities making up only around 13 per cent of the population.

The statistics emerged three days after the government ordered a review into why BAME patients appear to be disproportionately vulnerable to the virus.

Those who identified themselves as being of Indian heritage made up the single worst affected group, accounting for 3 per cent of Covid-19 hospital deaths, with those from the Caribbean the next largest group, accounting for 2.9 per cent.

It came as an additional 449 deaths across the UK were announced on Monday night, the lowest daily toll for two weeks.

It prompted one leading expert to conclude that infections may have peaked before the lockdown, with the public hand-washing campaign credited as a bigger factor than isolation.

The raw number amounts a 47 per cent decrease in England in the 12 days since April 8, the worst day for hospital deaths when 803 were announced.

However, of the 429 deaths announced on Monday, 85 occurred on April 19, 210 on April 18 and 53 on April 17, with 77 others scattered across the previous days of the month.

Given that the lag between a person becoming infected with Covid-19 and deteriorating to a state where they might die can take three weeks, the figures could indicate that transmission of the virus in the community peaked before the lockdown began on March 23.

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