Haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem have higher infection rate than Bnei Brak

“The majority of those ill with coronavirus in Jerusalem are in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods,” said Interior Minister Arye Deri.

Border Police go about coronavirus inspections in Mea Shearim, a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Border Police go about coronavirus inspections in Mea Shearim, a haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Interior Minister Arye Deri said on Sunday morning that some ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem have a higher coronavirus infection rate than Bnei Brak, the city with the highest rate in the country.
Speaking in the Knesset Committee for Coronavirus, Deri, who is leading a government task force for dealing with the severe coronavirus outbreak in the ultra-Orthodox community, also expounded on efforts to deal with the epidemic in Bnei Brak itself, in particular the challenge of keeping the elderly population of the city isolated.
“The majority of those ill with coronavirus in Jerusalem are in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods,” said Deri.
“In some of those neighborhoods which have a [high] concentration of infected people, the rate of infection is even higher than Bnei Brak.
Deri declined however to say which neighborhoods specifically he was referring to.
According to figures from early last week, the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem already had the largest outbreaks of the contagion.
According to figures provided to the Jerusalem Municipal Council, the top five neighborhoods with the highest number of infected people were all ultra-Orthodox, including Har Nof with  44 cases, Bayit Ve’gan with 37, Geula with 34, Romema with 29 and Ramot with 19.

As of Saturday, Jerusalem had 1,132 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 – approximately 0.12% of the population – while Bnei Brak has 1,061 people infected, representing 0.54% of that city’s residents, a rate more than four times as much.
The interior minister said that the Purim holiday had been a significant cause in spreading the virus around the ultra-Orthodox community because of the large gatherings which take place in synagogues and for festive meals where people often host large numbers of families.
Deri insisted that the ultra-Orthodox community and its rabbis are now fully cooperating and on board with the social-distancing orders and other requirements to stop the spread of the coronavirus and deal with its impact, saying: “Lets not enter into what was and what wasn’t.”
During the course of March, when restrictions were gradually increased by the government, the majority of the leadership of the ultra-Orthodox community was very reticent to comply with the social-distancing restrictions because of the limitations it put on religious life.
Deri said that one of the biggest problems in Bnei Brak at present is in dealing with the elderly population, which is at high risk of infection, as well as serious complications from the disease and spreading it.
The interior minister said that his task force had decided to leave the elderly at home and not move them to hotels outside of the city, following recommendations of the Health Ministry which said that one such person in a hotel could infect everyone else residing there.
Instead, efforts are being made to provide the elderly and others in Bnei Brak who are in quarantine with everything they need so they do not need to leave their homes at all and thereby prevent further spread of the virus.