The neighbourhood hardest hit by coronavirus in Salford is home to one of the borough’s hardest-to-reach communities – in which many don’t watch television, own smartphones and, in some cases, have access to the internet, a councillor has said.
Higher Broughton has consistently had the highest number Covid-19 cases in Salford.
Throughout the pandemic, more than 124 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the neighbourhood and at least 31 of them have since died.
According to the latest government figures, Higher Broughton is still the area with one of the highest levels of Covid in the borough with eight cases, now second only to neighbouring Salford Central and University, which has nine cases.
Less than two weeks ago, Higher Broughton had the highest confirmed Covid-19 cases in Greater Manchester outside Oldham.
The area is home to the second largest Orthodox Jewish community in the country.
Kersal councillor Ari Leitner said the community, which he is a part of, has ‘calmed down’ since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “At the beginning there was a lot of people, particularly in the middle age group and in the older age group, who were nervous and very scared.
“I think people have become more aware of the facts. There doesn’t seem to be as much panic. There seems to be more calm.”
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Coun Leitner was keen to stress that while the number of Covid cases is rising in some parts of Salford, the number of deaths has fallen dramatically.
Sceptical of some newspaper reports, he said he believes understanding the true impact of Covid on his community and others will take ‘years of analysis’.
Higher Broughton is home to several care homes in close proximity, which could be contributing to the high number of Covid-related deaths, Coun Leitner said.
Anecdotally, although the community typically has large families, Coun Leitner has ‘never heard of an entire family that was in bed for a week’.
Coun Leitner said getting public health information out to the Orthodox Jewish community during the crisis has been challenging.
But the Conservative councillor said he and his colleagues worked with police and other authorities to communicate crucial messages.
He said: “Getting the message through is hard. So they had a communities group in Greater Manchester that was set up across communities
“But I felt they weren’t targeting the core Orthodox community. So we did some work around getting the message out.
“We had some adverts translated into Yiddish. And we had a hotline.
“The majority don’t have TVs, many don’t have smartphones and a lot don’t have internet at home.
“Because people were stuck at home and not going into the office, we set up a hotline. It had around 1,000 calls a day.”
Speaking last week, Salford mayor Paul Dennett revealed East Salford, Swinton and Walkden had the highest transmission rates in the borough – but said the picture changes ‘very rapidly’.
He said: “The highest rates of infection now are among people in their 20s and 30s across communities and they may not even realise they have the virus but can spread it to others who may be more vulnerable.
“Increasing rates is why the government introduced restrictions to stop the spread of the infection across Greater Manchester.
He added: “We’re stressing the importance of not mixing at each other’s homes right now.
“It is critical we all understand the need to keep a distance from others, wash our hands regularly and if feeling unwell going immediately for a test and self-isolating.”