Two Canadian Sikh doctors shave their beards to be able to wear the N95 masks necessary for treating COVID-19 patients

The novel coronavirus outbreak has brought life as we know it to a grinding halt in many parts of the country. But while people across the world are being urged to socially distance themselves and stay home, essential service personnel people don't have that particular option available. Medical workers for example, have been working tirelessly on the frontlines to combat the virus.

Two Canadian Sikh doctors recently decided to shave off their beards, despite it being one the symbols of their faith. According to a CNN report, the doctors took the decision after much deliberation since the alternative meant that they would not be able to treat COVID-19 patients.

Sikh men and women have five articles of faith that they bear on their person. One of these, 'kesh' refers to the fact that Sikhs consider uncut hair an indispensable part of the human body. This is done as a symbol of respect for God's perfect handiwork.

But as Dr. Sanjeet Singh-Saluja, an emergency doctor with Montreal's McGill University Health Centre, puts it in a video, "One of the pillars of the Sikh faith is Seva, which is service to mankind. I have always viewed my work at the MUHC as a chance for me to fulfill my faith's expectations of service."

He and his brother took the weighty decision so as to be able to don the N95 face masks that are used by healthcare personnel to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. Left with the option of either not seeing COVID-19 patients until alternative protection was arranged, or shaving their beards, they chose the latter.

Their decision has been lauded by many, even as many from the Sikh community expressed sadness that that had been the only recourse left to the two doctors.

Speaking about them, the North American Sikh Medican and Dental Association had written a letter a letter to members, assuring them that they were available as a resource "for anyone who is struggling with adequate PPE provisions, or facing adverse policies regarding the allowance of facial hair".

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