'Lovely' Essex GP feared to be first UK doctor to die from COVID-19

An Essex GP is feared to have become the first UK doctor to die after being infected with coronavirus.

Dr Habib Zaidi (Photo: NHS Southend CCG)
Dr Habib Zaidi (Photo: NHS Southend CCG)

76-year-old Dr Habib Zaidi, a managing partner at the Eastwood Group Practice in Leigh-on-Sea, is reported to have died at Southend Hospital, in Essex, after becoming ill on 24 March.

Test results have yet to be made public to confirm whether he was infected with COVID-19, but his daughter Dr Sarah Zaidi, a GP at the same practice, has told the BBC her father showed 'textbook symptoms'.

If confirmed, Dr Zaidi would be the first UK doctor to have died after becoming infected with coronavirus. His death comes as doctors call for better protection for frontline health professionals.

Coronavirus

The BMA warned this week that 'doctors will die' if they are unable to secure adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves when seeing patients.

Dr Sarah Zaidi told the BBC there was 'little clinical doubt it is coronavirus'. A spokesperson for Southend CCG said it was unable to comment until the test results were available.

Patients paid tribute to Dr Zaidi on social media - calling him a 'pillar of our community', and a 'good doctor and lovely man'.

On patient wrote on Facebook: 'Our family doctor - I am broken hearted, his wife, his daughter Sarah and the Zaidis before him have been a pillar of our community for many years.

Family doctor

'I will always remember the day Habib came to my house as I had given birth to my third son (nearly 44 years ago) while he had gone home for a visit to his family... looking extremely smart in a light coloured suit, he came to congratulate me, held my baby and genuinely was happy for us all.

'I at this time am genuinely deeply saddened and send condolences to his family and to all that knew and loved him.'

Another patient said Dr Zaidi had been his family doctor 'since our sons were born 40-odd years ago'.Calling him a 'good doctor and a lovely man', the patient said he had 'helped me through some tough periods in my life'.

'We both are genuinely upset and to Mrs Zaidi and his daughter Sarah both doctors our condolences and sorrow for your loss,' the patient wrote.

Another patient wrote on Facebook: 'This is awful. He was the best doctor you could ask for. He truly made you feel like he cared about you and your family. No rushing you in and out. A true professional who will be missed.'

As of 5pm on 25 March, 11,658 cases of COVID-19 infection had been confirmed in the UK, with 578 deaths.

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