Saturday, March 25, 2023
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Sikh doctor in Canada takes ‘difficult decision’ of shaving beard to treat Covid patients

Sanjeet Singh Saluja was unable to wear the mandatory N-95 mask because it was not able to fully cover his beard.

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New Delhi: The coronavirus outbreak has imposed lifestyle changes on people across the globe. In this case, a Canada-based Sikh doctor has been forced to choose between his medical oath and religious values.

Sanjeet Singh Saluja, associate chief at the department of emergency medicine in the McGill University Health Centre’s Montreal General and Royal Victoria hospital, was unable to wear the mandatory N-95 mask because it didn’t fully cover his beard.

Sanjeet, and his neurosurgeon brother Rajeet, then decided to shave their beards in order to treat patients infected with coronavirus.

Sanjeet has been practising one of the tenets of Sikhism called ‘kesh’ which mandates not cutting one’s hair.

‘Necessary in times like this’

Sanjeet decided to shave his beard after consulting with his family’s religious advisors.

“It was an extremely difficult decision for us, but one that we felt was absolutely necessary in this time of need…It’s a decision that has left me with much sadness. This was something that had been so much part of my identity. I look at myself in the mirror very differently now. Every morning when I see myself, it’s a bit of a shock,” he has been quoted as saying by the National Post.

He added: “Because Covid-19 has become so rampant in our community, it just wasn’t feasible anymore (not to wear a N-95 mask). There are so many people coming in. I felt I just couldn’t sit on the sidelines. This was an exception to the rule, so we had to do what we had to do to help out.”

Sikh doctors in UK

This isn’t the first time that Sikh doctors have expressed difficulty in wearing protective gear. Last week, the Sikh Doctors Association said that at least five physicians were removed from their usual shifts at the NHS (National Health Service) hospitals in UK after they refused to shave their bears and failed the ‘fit test’ for critical facial protective gear.

The doctors had later protested against this move.

So far, there have been no official guidelines that require healthcare workers to shave their beards. However, the NHS website states: “Beards, stubble and facial hair cause a common problem when using PPE face masks, as this can prevent the mask being able to seal to the face and passing the fit test.”

Also read: Life inside the PPE: No food, no water and no loo break for at least 6-8 hours


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  1. These day, Doctor is our God, Their sacrifices are countless, also wahe guru insaniyat ko dekhte hai..

  2. The masks can be customized and this step was in haste.
    No doubt Sikhs have been warriors since the inception of Sikh panth and during the times of need, sikhs have always stood up and helped the society at large.
    But this step of shaving beard could have been easily avoided ..
    In a liberal country like Canada this should be undone soon..

    • Do not down play the sacrifice he made nor act as though he had a choice. I am guessing you are not in nj or nj where it has his harderI know many that had no choice…it is different to wear your PPE properly then the way the idiots on the streets do and it must seal

  3. I think this person (Sanjeet Saluja) only need fame. I know many SIKH doctors & neurologists on front line of COVID-19, who had beard. He is giving wrong message to our community & other communities too.

  4. Wow. That leaves me teary eyed. I met some Sikh men on a cruise last year and was wondering what the cloth under their face was. One explained to me that it was his beard, which they do not cut, and if it took it out it would reach almost to his feet. I’m so impressed with these men who chose to do what was best for their patients knowing that their beard would regrow. Thank you both and ALL physicians/nurses medical personnel for fighting this virus on the front lines.

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