The chief medical officer has identified three "clear" factors that increase your risk from coronavirus
Professor Chris Whitty addressed the coronavirus pandemic in the UK at today's daily press briefing, led by first secretary Dominic Raab.
Asked whether ethnicity played a part in someone's vulnerability to the virus, Prof Whitty said there were three clear factors that health officials know increases a person's risk from coronavirus.
He said: "It's absolutely critical that we find out which groups are most at risk so we can help protect them.
"There are three things which are really clear – and ethnicity is less clear."
Prof Whitty said the government is "very keen" to find out if more people from ethnic minority backgrounds appear to suffer from the disease and said Public Health England has been asked to look into the issue in detail.
He then outlined the following three "clear" risk factors.
1. Pre-existing conditions
Prof Whitty said over 90 per cent of people who have died with coronavirus in the UK had at least one other disease.
He gave cardiovascular disease as one of the conditions that many of those who have died had suffered from.
The latest statistics on coronavirus deaths from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that of the deaths that involved Covid-19 that occurred last month, there was at least one pre-existing condition in 91 per cent of cases.
The most common pre-existing condition was ischaemic heart disease, which was cited on 541 death certificates – or 14 per cent of those deaths involving the virus.
This was followed by dementia and Alzheimer's disease (531 deaths), chronic lower respiratory diseases (495 deaths) and influenza and pneumonia (415 deaths).
And Prof Whitty said it was "critical" to protect older people as age is one of the factors that puts you at increased risk if you develop coronavirus.
ONS data has revealed that the rate of death due to coronavirus increases significantly in each age group, starting from age 55 to 59 years in males and age 65 to 69 years in females.
Overall, one in five deaths were in people between the ages of 80 and 84 years.
Prof Whitty said that evidence shows male sex is a "very clear risk factor" – but the reason why is not yet clear.
Nearly twice as many men as women died from coronavirus last month, according to the ONS data.
The ONS said the death rate in men from coronavirus was "significantly higher" than in women.
The data revealed that there were 79.5 deaths per 100,000 people for men compared to 46.5 deaths per 100,000 people for women.