Coronavirus has worsened “stark” and “pervasive” inequalities in London, the regional director of Public Health England has warned.

Professor Kevin Fenton said the pandemic must be a call to action for health leaders in the capital.

A growing bank of national evidence shows the virus has hit older people, poorer communities, men, and those of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) heritage hardest.

READ: Mayor calls for inquiry into ethnic minority Covid-19 deaths

Some of these groups are also more likely to be impacted by the wider social and economic consequences of the outbreak, Professor Fenton said.

“Covid-19 didn’t create inequalities but it certainly has shone a light on them,” he told a meeting of the London Health Board today (Tuesday 30 June).

“We now know that it is has in fact worsened them – either through the direct or indirect impacts of the disease.”

The Public Health England leader said the pandemic has come at an “unprecedented time”, as protests across the world draw attention to racial inequality.

Many countries have seen demonstrations following the death of an African American man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, USA.

Mr Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes – and his death has sparked protests across the world, including in the UK.

READ: Senior cop admits Met must do better in wake of George Floyd death

“As a result of the George Floyd murder, as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is now a consciousness of not only a health crisis but […] a social justice crisis,” Professor Fenton explained.

“These inequalities are stark, they’re pervasive and they are a call to action for the system moving forward to ensure that we do not go back to where we were […] but we redouble and enhance our efforts to address these widening inequalities,” he added.