REGINA — A Saskatchewan doctor who died from COVID-19 is being remembered by a colleague as a joyful spirit who was always pleasant to be around.
A longtime friend and fellow physician said Dr. Youssef Al-Begamy died Sunday at a Toronto hospital, where he had been transferred from Saskatchewan late last month and was being treated for the virus.
Dr. Fauzi Ramadan, who is based in Moose Jaw, Sask., said the worst thing was notifying his friend's mother and sisters in Saudi Arabia of his death. Al-Begamy, who was an emergency room and family doctor in the Regina area, had no immediate family in Canada.
"He was an excellent person, a very nice person, and he's known by a lot of people from all different parts of Canada," Ramadan said.
He said he spent all day Monday fielding phone calls from people in British Columbia and throughout Saskatchewan who worked with Al-Begamy.
"He is loved by all of his colleagues. He is a person that had no problem with anybody, and everybody says Youssef was a good person, and that was his character," Ramadan said.
"His spirit was quite joyful and pleasant, and he was a happy person."
The Islamic Association of Saskatchewan and the Moose Jaw Mosque were planning to hold a special prayer for Al-Begamy on Monday night.
Ramadan, who was making arrangements for Al-Begamy's body to be sent back to Saudi Arabia, also asked people to pray for his longtime friend and colleague.
Neither the Saskatchewan Health Authority nor the minister of health would confirm the death, citing provincial privacy laws.
However, Health Minister Paul Merriman offered his condolences.
"Anybody that's suffered a loss in their family due to COVID-19 is tragic. It's not an easy situation," Merriman said Monday.
"I really wish we didn't have to deal with this in our province, and I wish that everyone would go get vaccinated, because it would really minimize the impact of COVID on our health."
Saskatchewan's latest numbers show there are still 18 of its residents being treated in Ontario intensive care units.
Another 191 people are in Saskatchewan hospitals with COVID-19.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 8, 2021.
Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press