Antwerp Jewish Community Braces For 85% Infection Rate And Hundreds Of Deaths From Coronavirus

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ANTWERP (JTA) – Jewish community leaders in Antwerp are predicting that the coronavirus will infect 85% of its members — a significantly higher rate than the one projected for Belgium’s population.

The projection, which was compiled last week and obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, also predicts that the coming weeks will see at least 550 deaths in the heavily haredi Orthodox community based on a calculation of a 3.4% death rate among 25,000 people.

Marc Van Ranst, a prominent Belgian who has led the country’s anti-influenza policy, said Tuesday that he expects half of Belgium’s population to contract the virus. Other estimates put the figure at 70%.

As of Friday, Belgium had 1,795 confirmed cases and 21 deaths from the COVID-19 virus.

Rabbi Pinchas Kornfeld, secretary-general of the Machsike Hadas religious community in Antwerp, told JTA that he was aware of several community members who went into self-isolation because they suspect they have the virus. There have been no deaths or severe cases from within the community, he said.

The estimate, compiled by medical experts in the community, said the projections for Antwerp Jews are “higher than the general population due to social interactions” among its members. A fifth of the community, or about 3,400 people, will require hospitalization and 10%, or 1,700 of the members, will reach a critical medical condition, according to the estimate.

Michael Freilich, a Modern Orthodox lawmaker from Antwerp, echoed the thinking from the estimate. He told JTA that the higher infection rate “makes sense, because Antwerp Jews all know each other, each synagogue is an extended family.”

“If the average Belgian person has a circles of 15 close friends and family,” he said, “then with Antwerp Jews it’s 150 people.”

Kornfeld said that members of his community are reluctant to tell others about diseases.

“People don’t want to say ‘I have corona,’ it’s seen as a private matter so there’s no way of knowing how far it’s spread so far.”

Belgium went into partial lockdown on Monday.

Rabbinical authorities from across Antwerp’s multiple haredi sections have instructed congregants to respect the lockdown order and refrain from gathering with people from outside their own household.

Many have, but others from the community are flouting the kingdom’s emergency regulations, Shmulie Markowitz, head of the Hatzole Antwerp Jewish community emergency and rescue unit, said Friday.

Specifically, community members are violating rules that preclude more than 10 individuals occupying the same space at a store.

“People push in, and they bring their children with them, and this must stop,” he said in an impassioned plea he sent over WhatsApp to many community members.

Freilich said the projections can be avoided.

“Social distancing and partial quarantine are meant to ensure such numbers are never reached,” he said.

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63 COMMENTS

    • Unfortunately our communities are filled with people who are not telling about the cases in their homes. Family members are going to the store and shopping while their brother, mother, father, child is suffering from this and they likely have it and are spreading it. Hatzaloh said many people have died already, but of course they cannot release names. It is all fake news until the reality will hit home I guess.

      • Now that the dreaded measles epidemic is behind us, how many frum yidden died as a direct cause of the measles??? All the Rabbinical experts were shouting from the rooftops that yidden were dropping dead in the streets of Monsey and Williamsburg. Gee, I wonder if the cemeteries were able to dig new graves at such a high speed. Fake news panic driven hysteria then. Same hysteria now.

    • Numbers please I’m just gonna leave this message here I received from a friend

      Shaking as I write this.
      My father in law passed this morning.
      He was diagnosed with carona Tuesday overnight (although never officially diagnosed bc test didn’t come back). He was fine thurs AM but then took a turn of the worse Was put on a ventilator mid morning and we were in the dark all day bc of quarantine rules.
      I’m telling to let you know and also to take this real. It’s no joke.

      This is from my close friend Joey Shamah.

      He asked me to send this to all my chats.

      Baruch Dayan Emet. 3/20/2020

  1. I don’t believe that 3.4% is a remotely plausible fatality rate for a community which is so heavily weighted towards younger people and children, as most frum communities are.

    Nevertheless, this will be a tremendous tragedy for all our communities, and anything that can help mitigate it by slowing the spread and protecting the most at risk must be done.

  2. I am guessing 10 OLD, SICK people will die just like they would die from the flu, common cold, pneumonia or anything else as they have a bad immune system.

    • By the way, those with asthma are at high risk. That includes ME, and I have children at home who depend on me. People with asthma normally have the same life expectancy as people without asthma, but I read that the death rate for asthma from this virus is 8 or 9 percent. So even if you are somehow “okay” with killing “old” people and “sick” people, are you okay with killing young people who have asthma or diabetes? Don’t be so selfish.

        • For all we know Hashem brought this pandemic because of selfish people like those who ignore these guidelines and disregard the lives of others. Hashem knows what is in each person’s heart, Hashem knows what actions they took or did not take and nobody escapes responsibility for their callous disregard of others.

          • No. This happened because Yiddishe kinder were kicked out of Yeshiva, for many many different no good reasons. The Aibishter said, you are throwing out MY children? Now I’m going to close every Yeshiva! Think about that.

          • What you describe is an example of this base selfishness, of not caring about the needs of another. Kicking out a bochur with a cold uncaring heart. Refusing to accept a girl into a school for not reason other than not liking her family background. It’s all part of the same problem. People can be uncaring and selfish and cruel.

          • Ignoring the health needs of others is the same thing. Saying I don’t care about your child’s needs is rooted in the same selfish cruelty as saying I don’t care if your Zeidy lives or dies form this virus, I am still going about my business and who cares. It’s all the same bad middos.

  3. Fake news???
    Go ask literally any hospital worker you know and I mean anyone. Even the janitor. Ask them what conditions people are working under at the hospital now. My sister was describing them putting up tents at her hospital and that they are low on supplies. Stop posting posts that will make people less careful!!!!

  4. I live on a typical block in boro park. This morning just between the hours of 8am and 9am I counted 12 yes 12 men and bochrim going to daven with talis and tefilin. Multiply this by the other blocks in Boro Park and I feel safe to say there were well over 1000 people going to daven. The doctors have said don’t gather. Our Askanim have pleaded don’t gather. Our gedolim have paskened stay home and daven. And we have people that say “we know better.” Rashi says on the posuk shimu na homorim (Chukas perek 20 p 10) Morim – shotim. But doctors have said they are roschim. You may feel fine but you can pass it on to others. How will you answer after 120. The rabanim have said its a mitzva haba bavaira. I want to be dan lekaf zechus many in our community only have kosher phones, they don’t have internet perhaps they really don’t know the seriousness of the situation. If you are reading this and you have someone in your family who is going out to daven. Tell them Its a mitzva haba beavaira. The Bobov 45 Rebbe said “The same Hashem who says daven with a minyon now tell us venishmartem meod lenafshosaichem.

    • I don’t think people go to shul bec they are so frum about the mitzva of davening. people go to shul bec they need to see other humans . Its a social need. Just as humans need food, humans esp frum people need to see others. I think we all understand that despite the risks, we are all allowed to go out to the grocery store so we don’t starve. The same is true re social lives. You physcially can’t keep humans locked up like this. Its not sustainable.

      Furthermore, the CDC and official govt policy has not been to ban gatherings of only 10 people. If you spread minyan out thin and people social distance, its not against current govt rules. Dr’s may have said not to. But the gov’t hasn’t banned it. Even israel who is the most cautious still allows 10 people.

      I personally have not gone to shul. But I understand where those that go are coming from. I think that after two weeks the frum community will go bzierk. And there is no way you can keep people locked in their homes a whole peasch

      • Why are you ALWAYS on the wrong side of virtually EVERY issue?
        Hey, everybody! Unedumacated Farchy says it’s okay to have a “thin, spread out” minyan! Go knock yourselves your out!

        • Are you capable of reading? Where did Archy say that it’s “okay” to have such a minyan? What he said – and this is correct – is that it hasn’t been banned.

        • I did not say its OK. You are a lair and fake news. Proof is that I didn’t attend.

          What I did say was that I “understand” the view of those that feel its OK. The CDC and govt did not ban it yet. Please do respond why they didn’t ban out if its like you are saying

        • FYI , How was I always on the wrong side of things? Did you forget? Trump won and you lost? You were on the wrong side buddy just like you’ll be in 2020

      • Like Coumo said today you are wrong. Simply wrong. No other way to explain it. If everyone behaves for 2-3 weeks we will get over this and be able to resume some semblance of normal life, if they don’t the governor will order the national guard to patrol the streets and lock up people who violate whatever rules they enact. It will be a massive chillul hashem and unfortunately people like me will be forced to agree with such action as these people are killing others and destroying life for everyone else.

        • Again what is the govt rules. Please clarify. As far as I know the govt rules are still that meeting of 10 providing they are spread out is permissible albiet strongly not advised.

          Its not a chillul hashem if we are not violating those rules. I am not advocating to make weddings against govt rules nor do I advocate schools stay open . But minyan so far is not illegal.

          Again I perosnally think you should opt for the safer route and stay home. But i get them.

          I hope you are correct that its over in 2-3 weeks bec there is no way people will stay inside for pesach

          • No way they’ll stay inside? Does your educatedness including reading Hebrew?
            ואתם לא תצאו איש מפתח ביתו עד בקר
            Those who didn’t, didn’t survive.

        • What is purpose of this article, to let us know that many yidden will die, leaving aside all the other issues, whether hidden or don’t, it is beyond belief that a yiddishe newsite would publish an article predicting the death of yidden. Everyone that has access to this article already knows and read the requirements of prevention needed. No doctor can decide who and how many will die. It is a terrible chillul hashem to post such an article.

    • Just follow them, they all go Daven with a minyun , but we are following the rules , there are numerous minyan, in back yards or dead end streets , when in back yards if they are not on a porch than they just stay everyone at least 4-6 feet away , and people are just everyone on their own balcony or purch, and the same on dead end street, at least 6 feet away one from each other , yesterday shabos, there was even reading from the torah, one guy had a sefar torah and he said the parshe all at once with no breaks.

  5. 250,000 contagious people. Almost 10,000 dead. 17% of victims in intensive care. Higher death rate than recent flu. This is Fake News? This explains why so many ‘frum’ yidden are trumpf lemmings and backwards.

    • The numbers and rates are very far from accurate. China can’t be trusted with their figures. And most of the other countries are in no position at this point to give real numbers either. How many people are infected but have not been tested? I don’t think anyone can give the real numbers.
      This seems to be something that not one single government has so far been able to contain.
      Maybe it’s has hem sending us a message Maybe we need to do something ourselves to acknowledge this.

      • In Beijing Chabad was unaffected due to the government locking things down… The numbers from China correlate with Italy, based on when the lockdown till the numbers of cases started to decrease. So believe what you want.

        Maybe Hashem is showing us that our frumkeit is fake as when it comes to a real serious mitzvah, just about the most serious one you can keep, so many were quick to show they don’t care about it.

        You violate Shabbos and Yom Kippur for a safek to save life. Those are D’Oraisyas. What is wrong with people who engage in minyanim which is not a D’Oraisya. Imagine an hatzolah member getting a call during davening and taking his time to finish before finally going on the call.

    • Go to hell. We already know you like to grandstand on a mountain of corpses. Everyone else is trying to do what they can about it, while sit there posting the same drivel.

      יסכר (מלשון אסכרה) פי דוברי שקר.

        • Why is DeBlasio still endangering his City employees by forcing them to expose themselves just to give out parking tickets? Is giving out parking tickets considered essential? Is it worth killing City employees over it? Aren’t you concerned for their welfare? Or are you a classic racist and don’t care because most of them are blacks and Hispanics?

  6. We don’t know how long incubation is, even symptoms differ, even young are on respirators. You want to know how many have died????? Are you kidding? Who knows how many have been infected and what the next day holds and what the end results might be.. You’re burying your rear end in the sand. If you’re not a doctor, please shut up.

  7. The numbers and rates are very far from accurate. China can’t be trusted with their figures. And most of the other countries are in no position at this point to give real numbers either. How many people are infected but have not been tested? I don’t think anyone can give the real numbers.
    This seems to be something that not one single government has so far been able to contain.
    Maybe it’s has hem sending us a message Maybe we need to do something ourselves to acknowledge this.

  8. 1) Why haven’t frum Jews died? Because it only broke out in our communities recently. That’s also really odd logic: thousand have died, we know there’s an epidemic, but we’ll wait until Jews have died before taking action? Too late.
    2) This isn’t the flu. If you are so brainwashed by the right-wing media, then neither rational logic nor data can help.

  9. I have learned in my life that Frum Chassidish Yidden are in a class of their own. Their sense of Gahavah is troubling.

    You may warn them all you want. They are above it all. Well so be it. I speak to my family. I tell them to be careful. That’s all I can do.

    G-d will sort it out. He is forever. We’re temporary. G-d at times loses his patience with people who ought to know better.

    Have a Good Shabbos and may G-d have mercy on us all.

  10. Stop !!!!!!! Stop this ignorant dangerous nonsense.
    Dr. Zimmerman head of all Hatzalah of NYS announced that younger and younger are being hospitalized out of proportion and ICUs are straining at capacity. Another Hatzalah director said that people are fighting for their lives. They’re lying??? Hatzallah members themselves are endangered. My relative, a Hatzallah guy is now in quarantine.. What’s different about Antwerp?
    STOP…. STOP.

    • Okay. You’re right. I’m going to panic now and have an anxiety attack. We’re done. We’re all going to die. We’ll just lay down on the front lawn and wait for the inevitable. Thanx for your encouragement.

      • Let’s scale your thinking to all kinds of situations. No more hurricane warnings. No more coverage of the dangers of vaping. No more mention of “ota makhla” because saying its name causes it. Precautions? that’s for the goyim. We have seguloys!

    • What is purpose of this article, to let us know that many yidden will die, leaving aside all the other issues, whether hidden or don’t, it is beyond belief that a yiddishe newsite would publish an article predicting the death of yidden. Everyone that has access to this article already knows and read the requirements of prevention needed. No doctor can decide who and how many will die. It is a terrible chillul hashem to post such an article.

  11. Message from Genut of Tosh Hatzalah now circulating. In short, people are collapsing in Williamsburg ON THE STREE and Yereim Chapel has its hands full Rachmana litzlan. The word is getting out that people are being hit left and right. This has nothing to do with Trump, whom I love. KAGA. But it’s an emergency that’s exploding by the nanosecond. Doubt and mock at your own risk. Mankind is in trouble. Antwerp is not on the moon. It’s part of our planet.

  12. Why don’t you get the heck out of here already and leave ???? You’re a demented Trump hating loser obsessive meshuganer. Everything in your mindless brain Trump. SCRAM!!!

  13. This is all fake. JTA is a secular Jewish news service that is like all the other secular Jewish media and groups. They hate Trump and religious Jews. No religious Jews are dying. Not one. This is all a punishment from Heaven for supporting democRATs who support gay marriage.

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