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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.”

Number10/Flickr

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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Marcus Rashford calls for guarantee free school meals will continue over summer holidays

Well done Marcus!

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Кирилл Венедиктов / Wikimedia

Marcus Rashford is calling for a guarantee that the free school meal scheme will continue over the upcoming summer holidays.

The Manchester United star forced the government to U-turn on the issue last year, and is once again calling on ministers to keep the support going over the holidays.

Rashford relied on free school meals when he was growing up, saying that if his family had received help in the summer it would have made a ‘massive, massive difference’.

Marcus Rashford / Twitter

During the lockdown school closures last year vouchers were offered, but the government had resisted calls to continue the coupons – worth £15 a week – over the summer until Rashford got involved and piled pressure on ministers.

The striker didn’t stop there, also shaming the government into supporting families in need over the holidays in November via a Covid winter grant scheme.

As it stands, since the first lockdown more than 300,000 additional children have become eligible for free school dinners, with the total number of people able to access the scheme rising to 1.63 million in October.

No10 / Flickr

Rashford told The Mirror: “I definitely think it needs to be extended and the reason why I say that is, I’m just going back to what it was like for me in the summers.

“It’s much more difficult for my mum to keep on top of. Obviously in my household there were four children so as a single parent it was obviously tough for her.

“But when we were all in school or in high school, she can rest a little bit because she knows that we’re having a meal there, and then potentially she only has to worry about one meal, which is dinner time.”

Fairholme Primary School

He continued: “So having free school meals throughout summer holidays for me would have made a massive, massive difference.

“And I feel like what’s happened this year, like the pandemic, it’s affected everyone in different ways.

“I just don’t see there being anything wrong with extending free school meals, like it’s going to do a lot more good than bad so I definitely think that that should happen.”

The footballer isn’t the only one calling for the scheme to continue, with Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza also asking for free school meals to be extended into the summer holidays.

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Student suffers severe heart failure after drinking four cans of energy drink a day

‘I believe they are very addictive and far too accessible to young children’

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A young man who consumed two litres of energy drink a day was admitted to intensive care with severe heart failure.

According to a leading medical journal, the university student landed himself in hospital after drinking four cans of energy drink per day.

The 21-year-old spent nearly two months in intensive care due to heart failure, with the British Medical Journal stating this was ‘potentially related to excessive energy drink consumption’ in a report.

According to the report, the man drank four 500ml energy drinks every day for two years, becoming so ill that medics thought he might require an organ transplant.

The patient went on to describe his medical episode as ‘traumatising’, eventually seeking medical help after he suffered from weight loss and shortness of breath for roughly four months.

Daniel Juřena / Flickr

Doctors performed blood tests, scans, and ECG readings, and found that he had both kidney and heart failure – however, the kidney failure was discovered to be linked to a previously undiagnosed condition.

Each energy drink the man was consuming contained around 160mg of caffeine, and medics said that ‘energy drink-induced cardiotoxicity’ was the most likely cause of the severe heart failure.

In the report, the authors from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust wrote: “We report a case of severe biventricular heart failure potentially related to excessive energy drink consumption in a 21-year-old man.”

They said the conclusion to their report ‘adds to the growing concern in the literature about the potential cardiotoxic effects of energy drinks’, adding that the man’s heart function seems to have returned to normal nine months later but with ‘mildly impaired function’.

AlienFood / Wikimedia

The recovered patient added his own thoughts to the article, saying: “When I was drinking up to four energy drinks per day, I suffered from tremors and heart palpitations, which interfered with my ability to concentrate on daily tasks and my studies at university.

“I also suffered from severe migraine headaches which would often occur during the periods when I did not drink energy drink; this also restricted my ability to perform day-to-day tasks and even leisurely activities such as going to the park or taking a walk.”

He added: “I think there should be more awareness about energy drinks and the effect of their contents.

“I believe they are very addictive and far too accessible to young children. I think warning labels, similar to smoking, should be made to illustrate the potential dangers of the ingredients in energy drink.”

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Drivers could soon be fined for parking on the pavement under new rules

Make sure you’re aware of the proposed rule changes

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Jaggery / Geograph

A ban on parking on the pavement could soon be implemented across England, under new laws which are expected to be rolled out this year.

Parking on pavements would be a thing of the past, with £70 penalty fines for offenders coming into effect under the proposed new rules.

According to reports, the new legislation would see a ban on antisocial parking introduced, in a bid to make pavements safer for people with disabilities and visual impairments, as well as families.

The changes to the law which are being considered have already been implemented in London and would be rolled out nationwide.



They come in response to complaints about pavement parking and the risks it brings with it to those whose use pavements, with the Department for Transport (DfT) initially launching a proposal on the subject in September 2020.

The proposals came after a review discovered that almost half of wheelchair users and a third of visually impaired people were less willing to go out on the streets alone due to ‘antisocial’ parking on the pavement.

A spokeswoman from the DfT explained to The Mirror that the government is currently collating responses after receiving ‘overwhelming’ feedback.

The public consultation period for the proposals ended back on November 22nd, and as such a decision on the plan is expected imminently.

Jaggery / Geograph

However, Mark Tongue, director of Select Car Leasing has said that ‘the guidelines are currently quite confusing for motorists’.

The motoring company conducted a report which discovered that local authorities would have the power to dish out £70 fines if a vehicle was considered an obstruction, even if it was parked outside the driver’s house.

Mr Tongue said: “A pavement parking ban is 100% needed nationwide – anything that puts pedestrians at an increased risk requires action.

“However, the information given so far is slightly confusing for drivers. At the moment, there’s no clear guidelines for those who park on the pavement due to having no room on their own drive. Most households have more than one car, so it will be interesting to see where motorists are expected to park if not on the pavement outside their homes.

“Clear guidance is required for drivers so they know the correct location to park in order to avoid a fine.”

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