Hopes were raised this week that the UK is finally zeroing in on the end of the pandemic as the Jewish community reported its first seven-day period without any Covid deaths, writes Adam Decker.
The gradual lifting of restrictions on gatherings means that for the festival of Shavuot, which falls on 17 May, shuls may be busier than they have been for many months.
More communal activities are likely to restart within days after restrictions were lifted on outdoor gatherings, though the Board of Deputies warned that “complacency can still be deadly” and people should continue to follow the rules. Mortality figures compiled by the Board in conjunction with seven of the community’s burial boards showed that for the first time since the coronavirus hit last year, no Covid-related funerals took place in the week leading up to Pesach. The watershed moment comes after the community’s death toll passed 900 before the festival.
The peak of community deaths was during Passover last year, in the week ending 13 April, with 127 Covid funerals.
President of the Board of Deputies Marie van der Zyl welcomed the news but spoke of the need to stick to the rules.
She said: “Seder this year will have been difficult for many, not just because they could not meet with wider friends and family, but also as they reflected on loved ones they have lost in the last year. However, as we know with this virus, complacency can still be deadly. While this week’s news is welcome, we urge the community to continue to scrupulously follow the government’s guidance on social distancing so we can prevent further tragedy.”
Jewish Care has not recorded any positive cases of Covid among staff or residents since 14 February. A spokespeson said: “We are pleased to have reached a stable position for the first time since last year. We mourn all of the losses across the community and amongst our staff, residents and members and hope that we can now look to a more positive future.”
Steven Wilson, chief executive of the United Synagogue, said: “This is very good news and is testament to the care the community has taken, the dedication of so many healthcare professionals and the extraordinary vaccination programme. We are delighted we’re seeing an ever growing number of people retuning to our shul services.”
The number of UK deaths from the coronavirus has now passed 127,000. More than 30 million people in the UK have received the first dose of the vaccine.
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