A leading NHS doctor described as a “living legend” has died after contracting coronavirus, his family has said.
Dr Alfa Saadu, 68, died on Tuesday at about 7.30am after contracting COVID-19 two weeks ago.
The former medical director at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, was one of 563 people across the UK to die on Tuesday after testing positive for coronavirus.
The doctor had worked for the NHS for decades and retired in 2017 but carried on working part-time at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Welwyn, Hertfordshire.
He was not working on the frontline fighting the coronavirus pandemic when he contracted the virus.
The doctor, who grew up in Nigeria’s Kwara state, moved to the UK when he was 12 years old and worked for most of his career in the UK, with a stint of teaching at a hospital in Nigeria.
His son Dani posted on Facebook: “He had been fighting the virus for two weeks but he could not fight any more.
“The NHS were amazing and did everything they could.
“My dad was a living legend, worked for the NHS for 40 years saving people’s lives here and in Africa.
“Up until he got sick, he was still working part-time saving people.
“The coronavirus is not a joke, please take it seriously and listen to the government.
“Please stay safe and protect your loved ones, nothing is more important.”
Lance McCarthy, chief executive of the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, said Dr Saadu was “well known” at the trust and will be fondly remembered.
“It is with saddest that we learn of the passing of Dr Alfa Saadu,” he said.
“Alfa was well-known at the trust for his passion for ensuring our patients received high quality care. He was a committed member of the team and is remembered fondly by many.
“His family and friends are in our thoughts at this sad time.”
Dr Saadu was also chairman of Kwasang UK, an association for the diaspora from his home state of Kwara in Nigeria, and a community leader in Pategi, the small town he spent his childhood in.
The former president of the Nigerian senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, tweeted a tribute to Dr Saadu, saying he was a “foremost medical practitioner” who will be “sorely missed”.
He tweeted: “Late Dr Saadu provided leadership for our people in the diaspora as he served for many years as chairman, Kwara State Association of Nigeria (Kwasang UK). Back at home, he was a community leader and traditional office holder as Galadima of Pategi. He will be sorely missed.
“We pray that Allah forgive his sins and grant him a place in Aljannah Firdaus. May Allah also grant his family, the people of Pategi and Kwara State the fortitude to bear the loss.”