UK Jewish community hit by spike in COVID-19 deaths

Infection rates spike in areas with large ultra-Orthodox communities including Golders Green, Stamford Hill, and Broughton

Ultra-Orthodox Jews stand in a street in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Stamford Hill in the UK (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews stand in a street in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Stamford Hill in the UK
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
There has been an uptick in COVID-19 deaths among British Jews over the last week, the Board of Deputies said Tuesday.
There were seven Jewish funerals carried out where the deceased contracted the coronavirus.
This is the highest recorded weekly figure recorded since the beginning of June by the Board of Deputies, an umbrella body for the UK Jewish community.
Some 520 British Jews have died of the virus.
“The last two weeks have sadly seen an increase in those dying from COVID-19 in our community,” said Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl. “We have already been hit hard by this awful disease and we are desperate to keep everyone as safe as possible.”
Van der Zyl noted that Simhat Torah this weekend could lead to increased infections.
“I implore everyone to follow the government regulations on hygiene and social distancing so that we can all keep as safe as possible,” she said.
These figures come as districts with high Jewish populations have risen to the top of infection rates in those areas.
In the London borough of Barnet, the ward with the highest seven-day infection rate from September 20 to 26 was Golders Green with 71 COVID-19 infections per 100,000, two and a half times the borough-wide rate of 28 infections per 100,000.
Barnet has the largest Jewish population of any borough in London, and Golders Green has the highest Jewish population in that borough and indeed is the most populous Jewish neighborhood in the country, as well as having a large haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community.
The second highest infection rate in Barnet was the Edgware ward, which has the fourth largest Jewish community in the country and also has a sizeable haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community.
And in Stamford Hill, a ward in the London borough of Hackney famous for its large hassidic communities, such as Satmar and Belz, the infection rates are even higher.
According to data from the Hackney council, COVID-19 infection rates spiked dramatically last week – September 26-October 2 – in the three wards in the borough with large haredi communities.
The weekly rate of infections in Springfield with the UK’s eighth largest Jewish community was a massive 309 per 100,000, along with 153 per 100,000 for Cazenove, and 141 per 100,000 for Stamford Hill West.
The rate in Springfield only the week before, September 19-25, was 103 per 100,000, still extremely high but three times lower than last week.
Dr. Sandra Husbands, director of City and Hackney’s Public Health, stated on October 2 that the Hackney’s borough-wide infection rate is 40 cases per 100,000 people.
Even at the beginning of September, Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville noted that the majority of cases were coming from the Stamford Hill area, saying the spike then could be due to “overseas visitors from countries now on the quarantine list. Those countries include the USA, Israel, and Belgium.”
Glanville said at the time that he was aware of the upcoming Jewish holiday season “that may see hundreds of families visiting each other” but urged Stamford Hill residents “to avoid close contact with other households.”
In Higher Broughton and Broughton Park, local districts within the city of Salford, a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester with large ultra-Orthodox communities, COVID-19 infection rates have also spiked.
In Broughton Park, the rate of infection was 424 per 100,000 between September 25 and October 1, and 273 per 100,000 in Higher Broughton.
On September 27, the Manchester Evening News noted that Higher Broughton “has had the most coronavirus cases in Salford so far with 225 in total, and 28 cases alone in the week beginning September 14.
On August 25, the Manchester Evening News reported that “Higher Broughton has consistently had the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Salford,” and that at the beginning of August “Higher Broughton had the highest confirmed COVID-19 cases in Greater Manchester outside Oldham.”
Local councilor Ari Leitner, who is from the haredi community, told the paper that getting messages to the community about the disease had been hard since the majority of its members do not have TV, smartphones or Internet at home.
Although Higher Broughton and Broughton Park do have high rates of COVID-19 infection, many nearby districts in northwestern England are also experiencing severe infection rates, although most not as high as Broughton Park.