THE poorest people in Dumbarton and the Vale are paying the highest price in the coronavirus pandemic, the area’s MP has warned.

Martin Docherty-Hughes, SNP MP for West Dunbartonshire, said the pandemic had exposed the damaging impact of austerity, as new figures suggest people living in the most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to die from coronavirus compared to those living in the wealthiest parts.

According to figures published by the National Records of Scotland (NRS), West Dunbartonshire is amongst the areas worst affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, alongside Inverclyde and Renfrewshire.

It follows analysis published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggesting that across the UK deprived communities are significantly more vulnerable to the risk of coronavirus.

Martin Docherty-Hughes, West Dunbartonshire MP for the SNP, said: “These figures underline the devastating impact this virus is having on our communities and my thoughts remain with those who have tragically lost loved ones to Covid-19.

“The evidence here and across the UK shows that it is the poorest people living in the most deprived areas who are being hit hardest by the global pandemic.

“Wealth inequality leads to health inequality, and this virus is exposing in the starkest of terms the impact of over a decade of Tory austerity in West Dunbartonshire and across these islands.

“As we look to emerge from this crisis, Westminster cannot be allowed to once again place the burden of austerity on the poorest and most vulnerable in society

Earlier this year the Reporter revealed the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) report which highlighted parts of Haldane, Bonhill, central Renton, Brucehill, and Westcliff are among the most deprived in the country, while there are streets in Castlehill that are in the top 1.5 per cent of the poorest nationally.

The recent NRS statistics revealed that there have been more West Dunbartonshire residents dying in care homes than in hospital.

A total of 48 lives have been lost in care homes, meanwhile 47 people died in hospital and four at home – bringing the total coronavirus deaths up to 99, up to May 10.

Neil Bibby, Labour MSP for West Scotland, previously urged the Scottish Government to “investigate the alarming situation” regarding deaths in poorer communities.

The MSP added: “We need to understand why West Dunbartonshire and the west of Scotland appears to be disproportionately affected by this virus. Too many families have said goodbye to a loved one, taken from them by this deadly virus.

Responding to Mr Bibby in the Scottish Parliament, Jeane Freeman, health secretary, said: “I have never thought that the virus would affect us all equally.

“The health inequalities that people across Scotland suffer are significantly exacerbated, if not caused, by income inequality, and that will play a part in an individual’s capacity to withstand the virus, just as age and other clinical conditions do.

“We have asked Public Health Scotland to look at the figures and the factors that might contribute to them, and then advise us of its conclusions.

“We have made it clear to the relevant health boards that, if they require additional resources to help them tackle what they need to tackle in their area, they should make sure that we understand that so that we can assist them.