Coronavirus (861) BBC: Fears over lack of translated virus guidance in UK

28 July, 2020

Extracts from a BBC news item and a comment from me below. Full text here:


A lack of translated coronavirus guidance is jeopardising the safety of non-English speakers in the UK, a joint letter to the health secretary claims.

The government said it has translated public health information into 25 languages, reaching a "wide audience".

But campaigners say it is a "limited range of languages" and the translations can take weeks to be updated when advice or rules change.

One charity said the government has so far shown "no engagement" on the issue.

More than four million people in England and Wales do not consider English to be their main language, including more than 860,000 people who speak little or no English, according to the most recent official figures.

In the UK, 88 languages other than English are spoken as a main language...

The government "has completely forgotten and left out this patient group" who are therefore "at increased risk of catching the virus, and are unable to protect themselves and their families"...

"Ensuring public health information gets to everybody should have been the most basic, first thing in the government response. And 'everybody' includes people who don't speak English."


COMMENT (NeilPW): The HIFA Multilingualism project pays tribute to Translators Without Borders, WHO and others for the huge task of meeting the information needs of people in languages other than English.

The coronavirus pandemic clearly demonstrates that every person needs access to reliable health information and guidance - in a language they can understand.

Best wishes, Neil

Joint Coordinator, HIFA Project on Multilingualism [opportunity for sponsorship and engagement: contact ]

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: