MONTREAL — Some 4,000 members of a Hasidic Jewish community in the Montreal region have been put under quarantine, after around 20 of them tested positive for the new coronavirus following a trip to New York, Canadian health officials say.
“They started to have symptoms last week. We got first test (results) yesterday,” says Eric Goyer, the head of public health in the area of Quebec that includes Boisbriand, where the Jewish community is located.
Of the first 40 people tested, about half came back positive, alarming health authorities.
At the start of the month, several members of the community traveled to New York state, which is now the epicenter of the epidemic in the United States, to attend a religious festival.
The highly religious Yiddish-speaking community shuns listening to the radio or watching television, and rejects contraception, with many families typically having around 10 children.
Most members have a rudimentary understanding of French or English, although Goyer says the community had translated a number of publications about coronavirus into Yiddish.
He says the community had voluntarily placed itself in isolation for 14 days and that its members were providing an “extraordinary” amount of collaboration with health authorities.