Pregnant women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds should be fast-tracked into hospital because of their heightened risk from coronavirus, NHS bosses have said.

It follows research from Oxford University indicating that 55 per cent of pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 are BAME, even though these groups make up only a quarter of births in England and Wales.

The new protocols instruct doctors to “lower the threshold” for admitting BAME expectant mothers.

They also encourage medics to discuss low vitamin D levels – more common among people with darker skin or those who always cover their skin – which may render people more vulnerable to the virus.

Hospitals are also being urged to record the ethnicity of every woman, as well as other risk factors, such as whether they live in a deprived area, what other health conditions they have, their body mass index and their age.

NHS England also wants to see “tailored communications” to help support women from BAME backgrounds.

Research from 194 obstetric units in the UK, published in the British Medical Journal at the end of May, found that black pregnant women are eight times more likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid-19 than white women, while Asian women are four times as likely.

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