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What a frontline doctor in Greater Manchester tells people who say they don’t want Covid vaccine

‘We’re fortunate that the state is offering that chance to protect our lives’

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Dr Zahid Chauhan has worked non-stop throughout the pandemic and has a message to those who want to refuse the Covid-19 vaccine.

The devoted dad has personally seen hundreds of people who have lost their lives to the virus, including patients, friends and even family members.

Dr Chauhan is encouraging people to take the Covid-19 vaccine when it is offered to them to stop other families from going through the heartbreak of losing someone. 

He told the Manchester Evening News: “When people come into my office and say they don’t want to get the vaccine I look at them and ask ‘so if you get Covid, what should I do at that stage? What should I think about?’

Keir Starmer/Flickr

“We’re fortunate that the state is offering that chance to protect our lives.

“I’ve seen at least 1,000 people who’ve died from Covid, including some patients I’m the family doctor for – I’ve become part of their family, and when you lose them it really hurts.

“When people say Covid doesn’t exist I see all those faces – the faces of elderly people in care homes I’ve gone to in the middle of the night to verify the deaths of.

“Go and ask their family members, or patients with Covid, about what they’ve been through and see if it doesn’t exist.”

In May 2020, Dr Chauhan was forced to bury his friend and colleague Dr Saad Al-Dubbaisi, a 59-year-old GP from Bury. Dr Al-Dubbaisi was the first GP to die from Covid-19 in Greater Manchester.

During the first wave of the pandemic, Dr Chauhan was called out to verify hundreds of deaths while working as the clinical lead for the death certification across the region. 

He’d be called to care homes in the middle of the night. He said: “Personally it’s changed lots of things in my life.

“Seeing all these deaths and then going home and trying to sleep, I’d be thinking about what it must be like being on a ventilator and I’d see that in my dreams.

Keir Starmer/Flickr

“It also made me more determined to carry out my work. I will do whatever I can and give 110%, I might not have tomorrow but I do have today.

“Vaccinating the first homeless person in the world against Covid-19 was one of the most powerful moments of my life.

“Just being able to speak on behalf of the people who can’t speak for themselves is so important – there’s no council of homeless to fight for their needs.

“We just want to help people, we don’t want them to die.”

Dr Chauhan worked hard to ensure homeless people had access to the vaccine, ensuring those not registered to a healthcare practitioner were considered.

He became the first person in the world to vaccinate a homeless person against Covid-19. 

Now, the NHS have added homeless people to the priority list for vaccination. 

Dr Chauhan has now turned his hand to dismantling myths and false information being spread about the vaccine. He said: “People queue up for antibiotics and will ask why they can’t have them and then you’re being offered something that can prevent the infection and some people are reluctant to have it.

“Some people are concerned about the vaccine changing your DNA – I’ve done hundreds of vaccinations and I’ve not seen anyone turn into monkeys or change in any way.

“There’s also no microchips in them, the state doesn’t have that kind of money.

Keir Starmer/Flickr

“By not having the vaccination you’re not only making the wrong decision for yourself but for others as well.

“If you get infected you might affect my mother who’s poorly and make her very unwell – you wouldn’t like a drunk person driving behind you on the road would you?

“A lot of the time it’s not that people don’t want to take the vaccine, it’s just that they want their concerns to be addressed.”

Dr Chauhan spoke at the European Islamic Centre on Manchester Road at an event aimed to pass on the truth about vaccinations to key figures in the Muslim community.

The series was organised by chair of the Oldham Mosques Council, Abdul Basit Shah after it was found that just 28% of Muslims in the area said they would get the vaccine. 

He said: “We sent a short survey around when the news of the vaccine approval hit and found that 50% of people wouldn’t take the vaccine, and 22% weren’t sure on whether they’d have it.

“It was alarming that there was a huge number of people who felt that way, so we started thinking about what we could do.

“People don’t know what to do, they get all kinds of information from all angles on social media, it’s taken over their lives.

“It’s in their hands, their pockets, it’s so easy for people to share misinformation that you can easily fact check but at that point the damage is done.

“We’re in repair mode now trying to make sure people have the right information, and can hear it from sources they trust far more than social media.”

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Mufti Helal, coordinator for the OMC, added: “We have 30 imams who want to take the vaccine which is so important because so people look up to them, they’re role models in the community.

“That will outweigh all the misinformation on social media.

“The message is picking up and the messages we’ve received have become more positive, they were quite negative in the first week.

“Because we’re working with local leaders and local people, it’s working – people trust the local leaders and people seeing this won’t need to ask, they’ll trust that the vaccine is good for them if the people they trust think the same.

“This is a pandemic, we’re in it together and this is a chance from Allah, if we stay together and strong we will get through this.”

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Manchester Christmas Market mug design has been revealed for 2021

The council has also confirmed how much it’ll cost if you want to keep your mug as a souvenir

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Manchester City Council & Andrew Stawarz / Flickr

Exciting Christmas news: The mug design for this year’s Christmas Markets has officially been unveiled. 

For those who descend upon Manchester’s Christmas Markets each year, the highlight is undisputedly the warm (and boozy) drinks served in the trademark mugs, which feature different designs each year.

In previous years, designs have included interactive reindeer noses, Santa Clause, snowflakes, Christmas trees and mistletoe. 

And as for this year? 

@nicolenavigates / Instagram

Well, the design has officially been unveiled and, for the first time in the markets’ history, the mugs won’t feature the date; this is  because they were originally designed for the markets that never happened in 2020.

This year’s design will instead feature a simple ‘Manchester Christmas Markets’ graphic with the words ‘Christmas is what you make it’ alongside an abundance of stars and snowflakes.

The mugs will be available in two sizes – a smaller navy gluhwein mug and a larger white mug for coffees and hot chocolates.

There will be around 80,000 mugs in total in circulation at the Christmas Markets, and as always there’s the option to take yours home as a souvenir.

Manchester City Council

Visitors will be required to pay a £3 deposit when ordering a hot drink, or £1.50 for beer and wine glasses, which will then be given back to you if you return your mug.

Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson Councillor Pat Karney said: “Second only to the disappointment of the cancellation of last year’s Christmas Market was the realisation that there would be no Christmas Market mug!

“We know that some visitors have a complete collection of mugs going back more than 10 years – and we expect those people to be first in line for a warming gluhwein or hot chocolate.”

This comes just a week after it was announced that the markets’ ‘main hub’ will be moved from its usual spot at Albert Square to Piccadilly Gardens.

@mcrchristmasmarkets / Instagram

The area will be transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’, with all the usual yuletide bars, market stalls and food huts.

Plans for the Winter Gardens also include a one-way system and separate entrances and exits, as well as a strict limit on visitors to limit the spread of Covid-19.

They are also adding a fully accessible toilet to make the Winter Garden as inclusive as possible.

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Bonfire Night events and fireworks cancelled across Manchester

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For the second year in a row, Bonfire Night firework displays and celebrations across Manchester have been cancelled.

As a result of ongoing fears surrounding the spread of Covid-19 and the current Government advice around large-scale events, the eight free council-organised events scheduled to take place next month will no longer be going ahead.

The events were planned for Heaton Park, Platt Fields Park, Wythenshawe Park, Crumpsall Park, the Eithad Campus, Cringle Park, Debdale Park and Brookdale Park.

David Dixon / Geograph

Manchester City Council said that the guidance around Covid-19 safety has made the events ‘unworkable’ and that the ‘health of Manchester people has to come first’.

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly and I know that many people who look forward to these events will be disappointed, especially when we could not host them last year because of coronavirus restrictions.

“But the health of Manchester people, and the logistical considerations around that, has to come first.”

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This comes after Greater Manchester Police Chief said he would ban fireworks if ‘given half the chance’; while appearing as a guest on BBC Radio Manchester, Chief Constable Stephen Watson said he has long held the view that ‘it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets killed’, stressing that it simply ‘cannot happen’.

When asked if he would ban fireworks altogether, he replied: “Given half a chance – yes I would. We’ve had people almost pointing rockets at passing vehicles and buses and putting them into telephone kiosks and all the rest of it.

“This goes a long way away from kids knocking around a bonfire and letting off a few fireworks and having fun. It’s that of course that we want to preserve. This is something we’re very much alive to.”

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‘Smoking kills’ could be printed on every individual cigarette to encourage smokers to quit

The new proposal comes as the government clamps down on smoking across the UK

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Tough new proposals to get more people to quit smoking could have ‘smoking kills’ printed on individual cigarettes. 

MPs have submitted an amendment to the health and care bill going through parliament which would allow the health secretary to make graphic health warnings mandatory.

Mary Kelly Foy, the Labour MP behind the move, said, as per The Guardian: “We know that cigarettes are cancer sticks and kill half the people who use them. So I hope that health warnings on cigarettes would deter people from being tempted to smoke in the first place, especially young people.

Pixabay

“I hope it would encourage some smokers to give up because if they are putting that in their mouth and seeing that message on cigarettes every time they smoke, I hope it would have the desired effect.”

The other amendments proposed by Foy include raising the legal age for buying cigarettes from eighteen to twenty-one, preventing e-cigarette manufacturers from using marketing tactics that could encourage children to try them, such as sweet flavourings and cartoon characters, and making it illegal to give e-cigarette samples away for free, something that many companies have done in the past.

Though this isn’t a UK government’s first attempt to stamp down on the toxic habit; in 2008, a law was passed that required graphic images warning of the deadly effects of smoking to be shown on all cigarette packets.

A set of fifteen images were rotated while tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide emission numbers were also shown on the side of packages.

@koalink / Unsplash

Plain packaging was then fully implemented in the UK nearly a decade later in May 2017 for all cigarette and tobacco brands. This policy forced the removal of all brand images, colours and promotions, and instead required all packaging to be standardised in terms of shape, colour and text design.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said on the proposed requirements: “Warnings on cigarettes were suggested over forty years ago by then health minister George Young.

“The tobacco companies, with breathtaking hypocrisy, protested that the ink would be toxic to smokers. The truth is cigarette stick warnings are toxic to big tobacco and this is an idea whose time has come.”

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