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Tributes for British Tamil doctor on the frontline who dies from coronavirus

Photograph: Kingston Hospital

Updated 2220 GMT

A British Tamil doctor who was working on the frontlines of the country’s National Health Service has passed away after contracting coronavirus.

Dr Anton Sebastianpillai, a consultant geriatrician at Kingston Hospital, passed away on the weekend at the hospital’s intensive care unit. His final shift at the hospital had been on March 20.

"It is with great sadness that I confirm the death of a consultant geriatrician who was part of the team at Kingston Hospital," said a spokesperson for Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. "Dr Anton Sebastianpillai died on Saturday 4 April 2020 having been cared for in the hospital’s intensive care unit since 31 March."

“Dr Sebastianpillai completed his last shift with us on 20 March and we would like to extend our sincere condolences to his family.”

The BBC's Health Editor Hugh Pym confirmed that his passing was a "COVID death". His death makes him at least the 6th doctor, and reportedly the 13th medic, to die on the frontlines of the coronavirus battle in the UK. There are now tens of thousands of cases, with over 3,800 deaths so far. Tributes have flooded in for the doctor from across the country, praising his contribution and willingness to continue to treat patients at the hospital.

"It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of Dr Anton Sebastianpillai who died on Saturday," said the Royal College of Physicians. "Another valued member of the RCP family, our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this devastating time."

Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey tweeted a tribute to Dr Sebastianpillai, stating "I was privileged to meet him & discuss the NHS & Tamil history".

"Anton is hugely respected as a consultant & author: his Illustrated History of Sri Lanka is world-class," he added.

"Very sad news from Kingston Hospital," said Siobhan Benita, Liberal Democrats Mayor of London candidate. "Dr Anton Sebastianpillai, who was widely known and respected in the local community, had come out of retirement to serve again," she added. "We owe so much to our frontline health workers - their bravery and dedication is truly humbling."

The Peradeniya Medical School Alumni Association of the United Kingdom said, "We are very sad to announce the death of a Peradeniya medical School alumnus," adding that he had "retired from a career as a Consultant Physician" and "volunteered to work with Covid 19 patients in the front line at Kingston Hospital, where he contracted the illness".