Sri Lanka’s Muslims offer prayers for virus victims

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Prayers were offered for virus victims. (File/AFP)
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A scanning and transmission electron microscope image of coronavirus released by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) Rocky Mountains Laboratories (RML). (NIAID-RML)
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Updated 15 February 2020

Sri Lanka’s Muslims offer prayers for virus victims

  • More than 2,000 worshippers gathered at the 19th-century Dewatagaha Mosque

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Muslim community offered Friday prayers in solidarity with victims of the global coronavirus outbreak that has already killed nearly  1,400 people, mainly in China.

More than 2,000 worshippers gathered at the 19th-century Dewatagaha Mosque near Colombo’s Town Hall for prayers that were also attended by Muslim parliamentarian S. M. Marikar, Colombo Deputy Mayor Mohamed Iqbal and Chinese diplomats.

Speaking on behalf of Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan, the Chinese mission’s Cultural Counselor Liu Dong expressed gratitude for the move and offered an assurance that business activity between the two countries will resume soon.

“China is overwhelmed by the moral support given by the Muslims of Sri Lanka during this crisis. We will soon overcome this problem and business will be restored as usual,” Liu said, referring to a recent slump in trade due to the virus outbreak.

Marikar, who coordinated the prayer meeting, said that “China has lost lives, while Sri Lanka is largely affected due to the absence of Chinese tourists, who topped the list of foreign visitors to the island.”

The special prayers were requested by Xueyuan, whose hometown has a large Muslim population, the mosque’s trustee, Reyyaz Salley, told Arab News.

Last week, Chinese diplomats requested prayers at Gangaramaya Temple, one of the most important Buddhist sites in Colombo.


Son of UK’s first surgeon coronavirus victim calls on UK to protect health workers

Updated 01 April 2020

Son of UK’s first surgeon coronavirus victim calls on UK to protect health workers

  • Family of Adil El-Tayar ask why NHS is not testing doctors on a regular basis
  • UK government under fire for not providing enough protective equipment for health workers

LONDON: The family of a Sudanese surgeon who died from coronavirus has called for the British government to do more to protect hospital staff.

Adil El-Tayar, an organ transplant consultant in London, who had also worked in Sudan and Saudi Arabia, was the first National Health Service (NHS) surgeon to die in the UK as a result of COVID-19. The 63-year-old passed away last Wednesday.

“Our view is that the NHS needs to do much more to protect the frontline workers (and) it’s unacceptable that in 2020 in the UK, there is even a question about whether the frontline workers are well protected and they should have been testing frontline staff from the very beginning,” Othman El-Tayar told Arab News.

He questioned why the NHS is not testing their doctors on a regular basis, let alone testing potential COVID-19 patients.

“They tell us just to stay at home for a week and they tell you not to come to hospital unless you become short of breath, at which point it’s too late. So don’t come to the hospital unless you’re coming to die. I mean, it’s absolutely unbelievable,” he said.

Othman said that his “father helped so many people throughout his life, not just through medicine, just as a person as well.” 

He said he hoped his father’s legacy will live on.

“People need to be aware that this isn’t just a virus and just numbers on the television screen, this is now very real.”

The UK government came under renewed pressure Tuesday over the shortage of protective equipment for health workers and the lack of coronavirus testing available for doctors and nurses.

Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, apologised for the delay in getting personal protective equipment to NHS staff.

El-Tayar was volunteering on the front lines against the outbreak in a hospital in central England. 

His cousin, the British-Sudanese broadcast journalist Zeinab Badawi, paid tribute to the surgeon.

“He wanted to be deployed where he would be most useful in the crisis,” she said on the BBC.

On Monday, health workers paid tribute to another Sudanese-born health worker who died from coronavirus in the UK.

Amged El-Hawrani, 55, an ear, nose and throat consultant, died in Leicester on Saturday.