The beauty queen was doing charity work abroad when she decided to return to the U.K. and help on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis

By Gabrielle Chung
April 06, 2020 05:36 PM
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Bhasha Mukherjee, a junior doctor who won the title of Miss England in 2019, is trading in her crown for a stethoscope to help out on the frontlines of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

The beauty queen, who took a break from the medical profession to focus on charity work abroad after competing in the Miss World competition last year, told CNN on Monday that she has returned to the United Kingdom to aid her fellow health care workers amid the pandemic.

According to Mukherjee, it didn’t feel right for her to continue wearing her Miss England crown — even if she was performing humanitarian work — while her colleagues were risking their lives treating coronavirus patients back home.

“When you are doing all this humanitarian work abroad, you’re still expected to put the crown on, get ready … look pretty,” she said. “I wanted to come back home. I wanted to come and go straight to work.”

Bhasha Mukherjee

Mukherjee told CNN that she was in India on behalf of Coventry Mercia Lions Club, a charity for which she is an ambassador, when her colleagues at the the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, England, began messaging her about the difficulties frontline workers had been experiencing amid the health crisis.

Having worked as a junior doctor before becoming Miss England, Mukherjee said she contacted the hospital and told them she wanted to return to her post.

“I felt a sense of this is what I’d got this degree for and what better time to be part of this particular sector than now,” she shared. “It was incredible the way the whole world was celebrating all key workers, and I wanted to be one of those, and I knew I could help.”

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Mukherjee returned to England on Wednesday and is currently in self-isolation as recommended by health officials until she can return to work, according to CNN.

“There’s no better time for me to be Miss England and helping England at a time of need,” she told the outlet.

As of Monday, there are at least 51,608 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.K., with 5,373 deaths from coronavirus-related illness, according to The New York Times.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.