A mobile phone app produced by University of the West of Scotland (UWS) researchers to tackle the disproportionate number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) Covid-19 deaths has launched more life-saving features.

The Stay Safe Scotland app, which is available to download through Google Play, provides the latest Scottish Government coronavirus information in a range of different languages and formats.

Launched in December, the app has since been updated with the latest Scottish Government information on the Covid-19 vaccine, as well as details on the importance of vitamin D and information on how to keep well.

BAME communities across the UK have seen slower uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine, and it is hoped that by providing information in a range of languages, more people will get access to accurate guidance, encouraging them to get the vaccine when the opportunity arises.

According to the Office for National Statistics, ethnic minority communities have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, with people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds representing around 15.5% of all deaths connected to the virus (Jun 2020).

Developed by a team led by Dr Muhammad Zeeshan Shakir from the University’s School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences, the app seeks to overcome some of the major barriers faced by ethnic minority communities in Scotland by providing crucial public health information in different languages, including details on social distancing, hand washing and self-isolation. It also provides real-time crowd status for over 100 supermarkets in Scotland, letting people identify quieter times to do their shopping.

Dr Shakir said: “It’s very important that people across Scotland get access to the latest Covid-19 information in a format and language that meets their needs. With so much false information available online, this Scottish Government-verified app provides BAME communities, as well as the general Scottish population, with the information they need to look after their own safety and make informed choices.”

The app has been developed in partnership with the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (CEMVO) Scotland, with contributory funding from the Scottish Government and Comic Relief.