University of British Columbia medical student delivers COVID-19 health message to South Asian community

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A University of British Columbia medical student is trying a new approach to try to get the message about COVID-19 precautions to the South Asian population of Surrey.Sukhmeet Singh Sachal and around 100 young volunteers have gathered at Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey in recent weeks, where they strive to get the public health message across in a culturally effective way.

“A large part of the South Asian population who visit the temples are elderly people,” he said.

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“We already know the COVID information that seniors are more prone to contracting COVID – that was a big concern to me.”

Sachal told Global News that in August he began to notice that many temple visitors were not wearing masks or physical distancing.

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The sophomore has already graduated in public health, and he realized that maybe the government’s message had to be delivered in a culturally sensitive way to get through.








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He developed a proposal for the COVID-19 Sikh Gurdwara initiative and recently received a grant from the Clinton Foundation and the Canadian Service Service.

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“Right now we are starting with a gurdwara. We’re doing it as a pilot test to see if it really makes a difference, ”he said.

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Sachal and his volunteers focus on three areas: masks, distancing and hand washing.

They provide free masks to temple visitors, which are specially designed to fit a turban.

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“We educate the public on how to wear, wash and store them,” he said.

They also demonstrate good hand washing technique.


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Coronavirus: British Columbia imposes 2-week regional ban on social gatherings and indoor activities


Coronavirus: British Columbia imposes 2-week regional ban on social gatherings and indoor activities

The hardest habit to get into, he said, was physical distance.

“A lot of the alumni like to hurry with each other,” he said. “What we’re trying to do now is create more culturally relevant information to prevent this form from happening.”

Sachal said the group started with floor markers, but they were largely ignored.

But he said they made a breakthrough when they put the distance of two meters in cultural terms.

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“When we started educating them you have to stay six feet apart, it’s the same (length) as your turban, and then they started to understand it,” he said. .

Since the launch of the project, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Sachal personally. In October, her grandmother in India lost her life to illness.

He said the tragedy only motivated him to take the message further.

“This is why I want to get the message out to all seniors, to all of South Asia and to all of the population and to all of Canada,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat and we can’t solve this pandemic if we don’t work together.”

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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