Coronavirus: Essex GP with 'textbook symptoms' dies

By Nikki Fox and Julian Sturdy
BBC Look East

Image source, NHS Southend CCG
Image caption,
Dr Habib Zaidi had worked as a GP in Leigh-on-Sea for more than 47 years

The family of a GP who died while being treated for suspected coronavirus say he sacrificed his life for his job.

Dr Habib Zaidi, 76, died in intensive care at Southend Hospital, Essex, 24 hours after being taken ill on Tuesday.

His daughter Dr Sarah Zaidi, also a GP, said he showed "textbook symptoms" of the virus.

If test results confirm he had Covid-19, he would be the first doctor in the UK to die after contracting the virus.

Dr Sarah Zaidi told the BBC: "For that to be the thing that took him is too much to bear. It is reflective of his sacrifice. He had a vocational attitude to service.

Image source, Dr Sarah Zaidi's family
Image caption,
Dr Sarah Zaidi said he showed "textbook symptoms" of the virus

"He was treated as a definitive case. There is little clinical doubt it is coronavirus, the test result is academic.

"He left a gaping hole in our hearts, but a loss that is also felt within the community that he devoted almost his entire life to.

"We are praying for the safety of everyone right now."

A funeral held in south Essex was attended by only a handful of immediate family members, as per new government guidelines.

Image caption,
Dr Zaidi died in intensive care at Southend Hospital in Essex

Dr Zaidi, a GP in Leigh-on-Sea for more than 45 years, had been self-isolating and had not seen patients in person for about a week.

He was a managing partner of Eastwood Group Practice with his wife Dr Talat Zaidi.

Their four children all work in the medical profession.

'Well-respected GP'

Dr Zaidi's son is a haematologist consultant in London. His daughters are a trainee surgeon, a dentist and a GP.

Leader of Southend Council, Ian Gilbert, said: "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dr Zaidi. Dr Zaidi and his family are well known and well loved within the community."

Patients and staff have been paying tribute to a "well respected and loved GP" on social media.

On Facebook, one patient said: "A kinder more caring gentleman, doctor and friend you would be hard to find."

Two years ago Dr Zaidi won an excellence award from the NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group, which described him as a "legend" who was "highly revered by staff and patients alike".

Dr Zaidi's widow has gone into quarantine away from the rest of the family.

Confirmed coronavirus deaths are announced by NHS England.

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