‘Breaks my heart’: Covid myths taking a toll on Aussie-Muslims

Islamic community identity Steve Dabliz, who runs the popular Request Dua Facebook page, said he has been flooded with requests for prayers from people whose family members are either seriously ill or have passed away with Covid-19.“In the past two months, I have received around 60 requests of this nature,” Mr Dabliz said.“It is very tough seeing these stories come through as many of these people are known to me personally.“It breaks my heart every time, as this has happened on quite a few occasions, when I hear that people from south west Sydney, who are generally Muslims, have passed away at home from Covid without even being tested or diagnosed.”He said he even lost his uncle on Tuesday night, who had been in a coma for a month fighting the virus.Among those battling the virus is Mr Dabliz’s friend and Melbourne father-five Zain Tiba.Doctors labelled Mr Tiba as one of the “sickest Covid patients in the country”, with his daughter Ella Zain urging all Australians to get the jab.The 45-year-old was perfectly healthy with no underlying medical conditions before he was struck down by coronavirus on September 6. But like others in the Muslim and broader communities, he had been exposed to vaccine myths,“If my dad would have gotten the vaccine, it would have avoided all the hardships,” Ms Zain said.Mr Tiba is still fighting for his life a month on and remains on a ventilator, kidney dialysis and ecmo machines in an intensive care unit.The Request Dua page is flooded with heartbreaking requests from people urging others to pray for their loved ones.“Please make dua for my uncle (name withheld) whom is in he’s Early 60s, living in Melbourne Australia. He’s condition is critical, as he has now entered ICU due to the impact of Covid-19,” one person wrote on October 13. Since the latest outbreak, many Muslim organisations and Islamic centres have run information sessions debunking Covid and vaccine myths.South west Sydney doctor Dr Jamal Rifi said the vaccine uptake in the Canterbury Bankstown area has improved significantly, with more than 14,000 getting the jab.“There will always be those who have little or no insight into how easily the delta variant is transmitted and how deadly it can be to even healthy persons with no underlying health issues,” Dr Rifi said.“Community organisations, leaders and community doctors did their utmost best to educate everyone about the delta variant and preventive health measures including vaccinations.”On Tuesday, Western Sydney Local Health District said that every single local government area in the region was now 90 per cent vaccinated.However, Mr Dabliz said that the “lack of communication” by authorities since the beginning of the delta outbreak, has come at the expense of some lives.“For several weeks, many Muslims were in fear even of getting tested, let alone if they tested positive,” he said. “I also feel that our religious leaders, senior clerics, must also be held to account for some of this lack of communication. “Over recent weeks, I will admit that they have lifted their game, but unfortunately it has been a case of too little, too late in my view.”

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