Three Muslim doctors, two of Sudanese descent and one Pakistani, have become the first medical professionals in the UK to die while fighting coronavirus on the front line.
Dr Adil El-Tayar, 63, died on 25 March at West Middlesex University Hospital in Isleworth, London. Tayar, who was a Sudanese organ transplant specialist, had been volunteering in an A&E department in the Midlands prior to his death.
His cousin, journalist Zeinab Badawi, told BBC Radio 4 that “he wanted to be deployed where he would be most useful in the crisis.”
“It had taken just 12 days for Adil to go from a seemingly fit and capable doctor working in a busy hospital to lying in a hospital morgue,” Badawai added.
On 27 March, 76-year-old Dr Habib Zaidi became the second front line fatality in March after losing his battle with coronavirus while receiving treatment in an intensive care unit at Southend Hospital in Essex.
Zaidi, a family GP who had worked in Leigh-on-Sea for more than 45 years, developed “textbook symptoms” of the virus, according to his daughter and fellow GP, Dr Sarah Zaidi.
She added that “for [coronavirus] to be the thing that took him is too much to bear. It is reflective of his sacrifice… he left a gaping hole in our hearts, but a loss that is also felt within the community that he devoted almost his entire life to.”
A third medical professional, Amged El-Hawrani, 55, died on 28 March in Leicester Royal Infirmary after testing positive for coronavirus. Hawrani was an ear, nose and throat specialist at Queen’s Hospital Burton in Derbyshire.
A spokesperson from Hawrani’s family said, “he viewed his role as a doctor as one of life’s most noble pursuits… we are incredibly proud of the legacy he has left behind and all that he has achieved.”
The deaths have shed light on the often-negative portrayals of Muslims and immigrants in the British media, with several Twitter users calling attention to the trio’s names.
One user wrote “The next time any of you think about or say ‘bloody foreigners’ or ‘bloody Muslims’ remember this. RIP.”
The next time any of you think about or say “bloody foreigners” or “bloody Muslims” remember this. RIP.
The names of the first three Doctors who died protecting British people from the COVID-19
— Wyn Morgan (@wynmorgan) March 30, 2020
Another wrote “Don’t want to hear Muslims being lectured on ‘British values’ again.”
Three NHS doctors have passed away due to Covid: Adil El-Tayar, Amged El-Hawrani and Habib Zaidi. Don’t want to hear Muslims being lectured on “British values” again.
— Fact check Rat (@rathfelder) March 29, 2020
The British government has faced criticism for the lack of personal protective equipment available for medical workers, leaving them vulnerable to infection.
One doctor wrote in The Daily Mail, “if hospitals are to survive this, we urgently need adequate protective clothing. Otherwise we are lambs to the slaughter.”
To date, the British government has reported 22,141 confirmed cases, among them 1,408 deaths, and 135 recoveries.