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The New Arab Staff

Family of Covid-hit Egyptian doctor could be forced to leave UK

Dr Enany has been described as a 'frontline fighter' in the coronavirus pandemic [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 October, 2020

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The wife and children of Basem Enany, an Egyptian cardiologist hospitalised with Covid-19, could be forced to leave the UK when his work visa expires in December.
The wife of an Egyptian doctor critically ill with Covid-19 fears she and her children will be forced to leave the United Kingdom when her husband's work visa expires in December.

"I can't believe this is happening. The whole thing is like a bad dream," Dr Basem Enany's wife, who did not wish to give her full name, told The Guardian.

Enany, a consultant cardiologist working at a York hospital, tested positive for the novel coronavirus in mid-September.

The Egyptian doctor suffered a rare complication of the Covid-19 disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome. The syndrome attacks the nerves and has caused Enany to experience progressive paralysis, leaving him unable to move his limbs or breathe unassisted.

He has been attached to a ventilator for two weeks, although he is able to communicate.

Enany's prognosis is not yet clear; Guillain-Barré sydrome can be life-threatening but most patients eventually make a full recovery. Hospital treatment for the illness can last months.

"The whole thing is like a bad dream. My husband is young and very talented. We never thought we would face something like this," Enany's wife said on Thursday.

"He loves his work so much. Even when he first got Covid he was working online from home on his emails and looking at his referrals. He is a very dedicated doctor. Before this happened our lives were smooth and easy and stable. Our four daughters are very well settled here. All of them love school and are happy here," she added.

Read more: Hundreds line streets in tearful tribute to 'much loved' British-Iraqi doctor who died from Covid-19

Enany's contract is due to finish at the end of November and his current work visa will expire in December. Before falling ill, the doctor was working on job applications and planning to renew his visa to stay in the UK.

His wife is now unsure whether the family will be able to stay in the UK. 

A statement from the Home Office did not offer any concrete hopes beyond December.

"Dr Enany is here entirely legally and has every right to remain in the UK. Our thoughts are with his family, and we will be urgently contacting them and his employer so we can help at this difficult time. Health and social care professionals from all over the world play a vital role in hospitals and care homes across the UK and we are hugely grateful," a Home Office spokesperson told PA Media.

Enany's wife welcomed the statement but said she remains "anxious".

"I do not know what will happen as my husband will not be able to work then so cannot renew the same visa we have now," she explained.

"When my husband is awake I can communicate with him on Zoom. The first thing he always asks me is: 'What is happening with the visa'," she added.

Dr Sanjay Gupta, a friend and colleague of Enany, has set up a crowdfunding page to raise funds to cover the doctor's medical fees as well as legal costs allowing his family to stay in the country "on compassionate grounds".

In just one day the campaign surpassed its goal of raising £10,000 ($12,907), collecting donations of more than £90,500 ($116,814).

The crowdfunding page describes Enany as a "frontline fighter" in the coronavirus pandemic.

He "regularly spent full day and night shifts on the COVID wards looking after very sick patients" as well as looking "after and saved the lives of several critically ill cardiac patients", the page says.

"As a friend and colleague, I feel both heartbroken and helpless. Whilst I am worried about Basem, I am equally worried about the future for his wife and daughters," Gupta wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Gupta, a consultant heart specialist in York, described Anany's condition as "stable" but "critically unwell". 

"There is a chance that he may be able to regain the ability to breathe without support and gain function of his limbs but there is also a high chance that he may not make it or be left with permanent disability," the doctor explains. "What is certain is that he will spend several months in intensive care and will not be able to go back to the profession that he loved so dearly for several months or even years."

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