How Stamford Hill became the Covid hotspot of the world

According to MyLondon.news post it states that out of the 26,324 households in Stamford Hill the estimates of infections with the coronavirus stand at 20,000.

Well, okay as explained in one of my previous posts its clear that some areas are densely populated and there are lots of children but as Richard Ferrer who is the editor of Jewish News said that if a rabbi says stop eating broccoli people would stop eating broccoli.

Full piece from the site below…

Hidden away in leafy North London is a former epicentre of the pandemic.

Of the 26,324 households in Stamford Hill roughly 20,000 have been infected with coronavirus. Few communities have been harder hit than the area’s Orthodox Jews and at some points, infection has been rife.

The figures are stark. Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases shows that 75 per cent of working age adults in the community have had Covid, compared with just seven per cent nationwide.

Strictly Orthodox Jewish families have significantly larger households than the UK average. Orthodox households tend to have five or six individuals per house compared to the UK average of 2.3.

However, in Stamford Hill households can often have as many as a dozen people in them.

“Over 30 per cent of the community live in homes that are overcrowded,” explains Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE, president of Shomrim in Stamford Hill and founder of the Muslim-Jewish Forum.

“There are 10 people in a two bedroom flat. That is not rare. If 10 people live in a two bedroom flat social distancing is beyond the realms of possibility.”

Women in the Strictly Orthodox community may have six or seven children, which is triple the national average and raises the chances of viral spread.

Richard Ferrer, the editor of Jewish News, said adapting to social distancing had been difficult for some in Stamford Hill.

He told the Sunday Times : “They are effectively being told to stop living. For them, these things are ordained by God and the very essence of life itself.”

He believes that more could have been done to encourage social distancing by senior members of the community.

Mr Ferrer added: “If a rabbi says stop eating broccoli, people stop eating broccoli.”

Although the vast majority of the orthodox community is abiding by the rules, several large lockdown weddings and parties have spread doubts about the community’s behaviour

However, Rabbi Gluck explains the Orthodox community have been following the rules so closely they have a new word in Yiddish to describe spending too much time on Zoom – ‘Oysgezoomet.’

The community has adjusted many of its religious services and although not many can be conducted virtually, synagogue goers have adapted their behaviour.

Jacob Solloman, who works at the Jacob Benjamin Elias Synagogue in Stamford Hill, told MyLondon the number of people attending synagogue dropped dramatically.

Usually the synagogue would have 25 members attending religious services but now only 10 to 12 people were turning up.

“What I have noticed is the shops are very strict about wearing face masks,” explained Jacob.

“They weren’t before but are very strict now.”

Police discovered around 400 people gathered at the Yesodey Hatorah Secondary Girls School in Stamford Hill last month

For some residents the spread seemed inevitable.

“It is spreading here because life is much more squashed,” added 21-year-old Sam, an Orthodox Jew who lives in Stamford Hill.

“It is very squashed. It is normal for a flu infection to go much faster.”

Like many of the Orthodox community Sam caught Covid when the pandemic began.

According to research from the London School of Tropical Diseases, Covid rates skyrocketed in March 2020 before rising again in the autumn months.

“It is a very close community with a lot of people here,” added Moses, a 21-year-old who works in Stamford Hill music shop Music Blizz.

“We go around together and meet a lot of people together. Obviously it spreads.”

Currently Stamford Hill’s infection rate is below the national average. There are just four cases in Rabbi Gluck’s postcode and Stamford Hill has a rate of 39.8 infections per 100,000 people.

“The death rate here among the Strictly Orthodox community in N16 is similar to other Jewish communities in our parts of London,” added the Rabbi, who was filmed taking the vaccine by Barts Health NHS Trust to help encourage others to do the same.

“It has not paralysed the community. There has not been a real spike.”

The community is now proving to be very responsive to the pandemic, a positive sign with the usually sociable festival Purim beginning on Thursday (February 25).

When Jewish medical charity Hatzola ran a vaccination drive in the area last week, 350 people arrived.

Yoel Friedman, who helped to run the event, told the Sunday Times: “We do in fact feel that most people are keen to get a vaccine as soon as possible and join the national effort to defeat Covid-19.”

With the Jewish holiday Passover set to begin on March 27, many members of the Jewish community hope the lifting of lockdown rules will allow people to meet up again.

In an area which has been labelled the Covid hotspot of the world, whether that is a good thing remains to be seen.