A London rabbi has died from the coronavirus and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is infected.
Rabbi Uri Ashkenazi was a leader of the Stanislaver Chasidic community, Hamodia reported. He died Thursday at 76.
Johnson made the announcement Friday, saying he was tested because he displayed symptoms. He also said that he would continue to lead the United Kingdom from isolation at his home.
Rabbi Hershel Gluck, president of Shomrim, wrote on Facebook that he was “an exceedingly holy man and a great lover of humanity.
“He recently told me, that he went to court to act as a character witness for a cab driver, a Muslim man, on the back of which the man was acquitted.
Every human being has a limited time on earth. In his passing he has merited to continue helping people as he did throughout his life. He is reminding us about the vital importance of protecting ourselves and others from COVID-19.”
Of the 578 people who have died from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, at least 26, or 4.4%, are Jewish. The U.K.’s Jewish minority of about 250,000 accounts for about 0.3% of the country’s population of 66 million.
On Monday, the government amended a bill granting emergency powers relating to the coronavirus crisis to assure that the bodies of those who die may be handled in accordance with their faith. Judaism and Islam generally forbid cremation, whereas Christianity does not.
Johnson delivered his video statement, saying: “Hi folks,” he began. “I want to bring you up to speed with something that’s happening today, which is that I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus.”
Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus.
I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus.
— Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives (@BorisJohnson) March 27, 2020
Johnson is the first leader of a nuclear power known to have contracted the virus.
Should Johnson become incapacitated, the government said last week, his duties would be taken by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the son of a Jewish father from what is now the Czech Republic.