A third of North Somerset households are home to someone in most at-risk group for coronavirus

A third of North Somerset households are home to people with a disability or long-term health condit

A third of North Somerset households are home to people with a disability or long-term health condition. - Credit: PA

A third of North Somerset homes contain someone with a long-term health problem or disability, making them more at risk to the coronavirus.

Nine in 10 coronavirus deaths have been linked to underlying health conditions, as people with chronic illnesses are more likely to develop severe symptoms.

Disability rights campaigners have stressed care must be taken when discussing coronavirus and sick or disabled people, to avoid implying they are ‘somehow expendable’.

More: Nine more coronavirus cases diagnosed in North Somerset.

Out of the 88,227 households in North Somerset who took part in the 2011 census, 29,491 – 33 per cent – contained at least one person with a life-limiting health problem or disability.

That was the same proportion as across England and Wales as a whole.

Of these, 6,119 – 7 per cent – contained two or more disabled or sick people.

While the figures are from 2011, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says any change is likely to be relatively minor.

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A new analysis of deaths involving Covid-19 by the ONS meanwhile found that 91 per cent of people who died with, or as a result of, the virus in March had at least one pre-existing health condition.

Ischaemic heart disease – also known as coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease – was the most common condition. Pneumonia, dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were also prevalent.

But disability charity Scope says the way in which coronavirus and pre-existing conditions are discussed risks devaluing the lives of disabled people.

More: Weston General Hospital worker dies of coronavirus.

Ceri Smith, head of policy and campaigns at the charity, said: “The narrative and language used around coronavirus and people with underlying health conditions is casually dismissive of disabled people’s lives.

“It’s appalling that the implication is that disabled people are somehow expendable.

“Disabled people’s lives are just as important as everyone else’s, whether we’re in a global pandemic or not.”

At-risk groups include people with diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, kidney or liver disease, neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, and people with a weakened immune system as the result of cancer treatment or HIV.

Pregnant women are not included in the figures, although they are also an at-risk group.