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Hackney warns community of extra Yomtov restrictions if local Covid rates stay high

Public health director for Hackney 'extremely concerned' by rise in cases

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Hackney Council has warned that it may have to impose additional social restrictions over the Yomtov period if rising rates of coronavirus infection cannot be reversed.

With Rosh Hashanah just a fortnight away, Sandra Husbands, director of public health for Hackney and the City of London, said she was “extremely concerned” by the increase.

“While there are infection cases in other parts of the borough, the majority of the confirmed cases we are seeing are coming from the N16 area of Hackney,” she reported.

“The data we have strongly suggests that the original source of this is overseas visitors from countries on the quarantine list. Those countries include the USA, Israel and Belgium.”

Dr Husbands added: “We are aware that the Jewish holiday season is imminent, a time of year that usually sees hundreds of families visiting each other, including visiting other countries, or welcoming visitors from abroad.

“We are urging Stamford Hill residents to reconsider those travel plans and to avoid close contact with other households as it is through mixing in each other’s homes that the virus has the best chance of spreading.

“If we do not quickly reverse the infection data trend in Stamford Hill, it seems very likely that there will be local restrictions imposed that could have a profound effect on the community and on upcoming religious festivals.”

The local infection rate for the borough, which has the largest Charedi community in the country, is 21.1 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people. According to the BBC, the average figure for an English district is eight.

In wards with a sizeable Jewish population, the rates are higher than the borough average — 115 per 100,000 residents in Stamford Hill West; 52 per 100,000 in Cazenove and 38 per 100,000 in Springfield over the seven-day period.

“We are working closely with community partners and religious leaders and we know that huge efforts are being made from within the community,” Dr Husbands said. “But it is important that everybody — individuals, schools, businesses, synagogues — acts fast to avoid local restrictions being imposed.”

The local authority will be writing “to every household in the area to outline the very real and imminent risks”.

A spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations said it was unaware of any “major spike” within the local community. “There is nobody in hospital from the Stamford Hill community,” he said. “We know of a handful of cases in the Jewish community.”

According to the Board of Deputies, the number of Jewish fatalities from coronavirus stood at 510 at the end of last week, one more than the week before.

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