Public health officials are warning Orthodox Jewish families in London, Manchester and Gateshead not to house swap with each other during the summer, after a spike in coronavirus cases.
An increased incidence of Covid-19 infections in Stamford Hill since mid-July has led Hackney director of public health to ask the religious community to “be vigilant”, with Barnet’s Health and Wellbeing board citing a similar surge in Golders Green.
In the north-west, health bosses urged Orthodox households not to use each other’s homes, with the head of Bury’s NHS clinical commissioning group Dr Jeff Shryer saying: “What has happened in North London is a reminder of how easily and quickly coronavirus can spread.”
The Orthodox communities of Gateshead, Salford and north London have close links and members often travel between these centres of British Orthodox life, which is worrying public health experts concerned about transmission of the deadly virus.
Dr Muna Abdel Aziz, who is Salford’s director of public health for Salford, said: “We have higher numbers of people testing positive in the last ten days, and real cause for concern. We are working closely with the public health teams in London and also Gateshead, due to the strong links within the communities in the three areas.
“We understand that often in the summer months families from Hackney, Greater Manchester and Gateshead house swap, so we are advising extra precautions.”
In March, more than a week after synagogues closed across the UK, Charedi leaders at the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations said women, children and “elderly and weaker men with health disabilities” should not go to shul, without extending the advice to healthy men, prompting concern.