PRESS RELEASE

Date May 12, 2020

Sikhs have never hesitated in fulfilling their moral responsibilities, be it using their hard-earned money or putting their own life at stake for the greater good of humanity.

COVID19 has brought ample examples of many brave Sikh men and women serving their humanitarian responsibilities on the frontlines. Notable among them was Dr. Manjeet Singh Riyat, a very well respected Emergency Medicine Consultant who died of coronavirus on the National Health Service (NHS), UK frontlines at the Royal Derby Hospital in the East Midlands region of England on April 20.

While we commend and encourage the Sikhs serving in the frontlines during the COVID19 crisis, we take strong notice of the local establishment and medical departments not able to provide proper accommodation for their beard. Recently two Sikhs doctors in Canada had to shave their beards to wear N95 masks when treating coronavirus patients. Five orthodox Sikh doctors working in the NHS, UK were temporarily removed from the frontline duty after they refused to shave their beards to fit into the protective masks. Unfortunately, hospitals are not acquiring adequate powered air purifying respirators (PAIRS).

We support the many Sikhs who have expressed their desire to continue using their skills during these critical times, and no Sikh should have to choose between upholding tenets of their faiths and serving their medical duty. It would also violate the Equality Act 2010. We request Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, to arrange for more PAIRS at NHS and provide the appropriate level of PPE to Sikh staff. We understand that the cost of one PAIR can be as high as 1000 UK pounds. We also request local gurdwaras and Sikh communities to work with NHS and other medical facilities to provide any funding for PPE’s should they need.