• Sunday, April 14, 2024


Retired GP tweets breaking Covid rules to hug bereaved woman

British prime minister Boris Johnson. (Photo by KIRSTY O’CONNOR/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Nylah Salam

A FORMER GP has revealed how he broke Covid restriction rules at the height of the pandemic to hug a woman at a vaccine clinic.

Dr Prit Buttar, who is retired, chose to volunteer to administer Covid jabs and last week took to Twitter to share a tweet which went viral.

He told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme why he decided to breach social distancing regulations.

“I was working in one of the vaccine clinics and one of the reception staff came through and asked if we could fit in somebody who should have come a few days before, but had missed her appointment,” he recalled.

“Of course, we said that’s fine and when she came in, she was so apologetic that she had wasted an appointment and apologised again and again, and we reassured her.”

The 61-year-old said the patient told him her husband had died from cancer and that she had to make arrangements on her own for his funeral.

“She clung to me and wept, and sobbed into my shoulder,” Buttar wrote in this tweet. She then told him it was “the first time anyone’s embraced me since he [her husband] died”.

“So, I decided to break the rules about social distancing. I leant forward in my chair and put my arms around her,” he added.

“I’m sure others could tell similar stories. This is how ordinary people endured the lockdowns and the terrible pain that they sometimes brought.

“They endured loss and heartbreak and loneliness with stoicism and resignation. After all, we were all in it together, weren’t we?”

In his last tweet in that thread, he wrote: “And meanwhile, others in the highest positions of government behaved as if the rules didn’t apply to them.”

Buttar’s tweet came as prime minister Boris Johnson apologised for a May 20, 2020 party in the Downing Street garden, telling parliament last week he thought it was a “work event”, despite an aide inviting staff to “bring your own booze”.

Since Buttar posted his experience last Friday (14), his tweet went viral. Many other users described their own emotional stories of how they felt compelled to break social distancing rules.

Buttar explained to the BBC why he had shared his experience in breaking the Covid measures.

“I posted on Twitter about this just to make the point that, you know, ordinary people dealt with their loss and their loneliness with tremendous fortitude and resignation and stoicism and what a contrast to the behaviour of the prime minister and his entourage,” he said.

“Everyone in the thread who said they’d broken the rules had done so in order to help somebody else, not because they wanted to have a party,” he said.

“The other thread of it was the people who hadn’t broken the rules, who had watched loved ones die over an iPad and now bitterly regretted that they hadn’t taken that moment just to say goodbye to their loved one.

“One of the universal comments I have seen when I’ve looked at the thread from people is that the gulf between everyday experiences and the behaviour of the prime minister is so vast.

“This is not something for which an apology – a promise to do better – will ever suffice.”

Johnson said on Tuesday (18): “I’m saying categorically that nobody told me, nobody said this was something that was against the rules, doing something that wasn’t a work event because frankly, I can’t imagine why it would have gone ahead or it would have been allowed to go ahead if it was against the rules.

“I carry full responsibility for what took place, nobody said to me ‘this is an event that’s against the rules, in breach of what we’re asking everybody else to do’.”

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