Determined Sikh Doctors maintain beard whilst fighting on the front line
Globally Sikh medical professionals on the frontline in this Coronavirus pandemic are facing personal protective equipment (PPE) challenges. The standard N95 masks do not provide adequate protection for bearded men as they can not form a seal.
A group of Sikh Australian doctors facing these same concerns realised this problem early on and found multiple solutions. One well established solution is the powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) with P3 filters. These allow for bearded men to be protected adequately from aerosolised virus particles. PAPR is well established and listed as an option by many international health organisations for PPE against Coronavirus. A group was formed amongst the Australian Sikh Doctors to share options and plans for adequate protective equipment.
One thing was certain, none of the Sikh doctors in this group felt shaving their beards was an option. Determined to find alternative solutions, several bought their own PAPR units at costs of ~$3,000 (with their own money) so that they could maintain their Sikh swaroop and still fulfil their sewa and duty as doctors on the front line. Others also identified methods to make their own PAPR units if the need arose.
There was some initial resistance from some local hospitals, however they have now been able to use the purchased PAPR systems and in some cases the local hospitals have also purchased these units for them. The group stands by the belief that “there is no situation where they felt that shaving their beards would be required and were confident they would still serve on the frontline” – standing proudly as bearded Sikhs. This time as warriors against disease.
Harbir Pal Singh Bhatia
North Shore Sikh Association of Sydney, Australia
Editor’s Note: Bhai Harman Singh from Basics of Sikhi addresses this subject in detail in the following video: