This year Ramadan will be a very different experience for the Muslim community due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now more than ever, GPs in City and Hackney are urging people to stay healthy and fast safely during Ramadan. Ramadan is due to start on the evening of Thursday 23 April 2020, and the longer, warmer days can bring an increased risk of dehydration.
Dehydration can particularly affect people with existing medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or lung disease, people who are on any medicines or are pregnant or elderly. The British Islamic Medical Association are advising people to consider the concession provided by the religion whereby those who are more at risk if they contract COVID-19 are excused from fasting at this time, and that missed fasts can be made up at a later date in the year.
If you are taking prescribed medicines, you should continue taking them during Ramadan, but check with your GP if the doses need to be adjusted or the times that you take them need to be changed.
To stay healthy during the 30 days of Ramadan, it is important to:
- avoid long periods of time in the sun
- drink plenty of plain water during non-fasting hours
- cut back on all types of caffeinated drinks including tea, coffee and fizzy drinks
- eat a balanced diet during non-fasting hours to keep your body functioning properly during the day. Foods that release energy slowly, including natural unrefined carbohydrates (whole grains, vegetables, fruits) and protein (meat, fish, eggs, beans), will help you maintain your energy levels. For healthy meal ideas, visit nhs.uk/LiveWell
Please remember: Fasting is not considered compulsory for many groups – including people who are unwell or have a long-term condition; people with learning difficulties; and women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating.
People with diabetes on insulin are advised by GPs to avoid fasting, particularly those with significant kidney, eye or heart problems, and those who monitor their blood glucose levels should continue to do so whilst fasting.
If you think you or someone in your household has COVID-19 or develops symptoms of COVID-19 whilst fasting, you should stop fasting immediately and use the NHS 111 online service. You should only call 111 if you cannot access the internet or cannot cope at home. Do not go to your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital if you have these symptoms.
If you have a non-COVID-19 health problem, please don’t hesitate to seek medical help, via the following services:
- GP appointments - GPs will telephone triage patients first and will provide either a video consultation or face to face appointment if necessary. Patients who require medical advice will only be asked to visit their practice if this is deemed necessary by the clinical team.
GPs will be able to provide care for those who need it for all non-COVID-19 medical conditions and concerns, including for those with long term conditions and for those needing immunisations.
- Pharmacy - Many non-COVID-19 illnesses can be easily treated by visiting your local pharmacy, where you can speak to a pharmacist without making an appointment. When you visit you must comply with the social distancing measures in place to protect yourself and staff.
- The Muslim Council of Britain health fact sheet and guide to Ramadan 2020
- Video message from Yusuf Dudhwala, Head of Chaplaincy & Bereavement Services at Barts Health NHS Trust
- Diabetes UK fact sheet on Ramadan and diabetes in English and translations in Arabic, Bengali and Urdu.