Toronto synagogue closes temporarily after lay leader found to have COVID-19

TORONTO — A Toronto synagogue is temporarily closed after one of its lay leaders was found to have the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Beth Sholom Synagogue, located on 1445 Eglinton Ave West, will be closed Monday and Tuesday to allow staff to complete a “thorough” sanitization of the building. 

A spokesperson for the synagogue told CTV News Toronto on Monday that last week one of their lay leaders, who is a member of the congregation chosen as a leader, exhibited flu-like symptoms and got himself tested. 

“It showed positive for COVID-19,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“As a result, he was placed into a 14 day quarantine where he currently remains at home and is showing signs of recovery.”

The man tested has not been to the synagogue since his diagnosis, the spokesperson said. 

He was confirmed to have been at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington.

A number of other people, who attended the conference last week, have been confirmed to have the virus as well, according to media reports from the U.S.

The synagogue is working with Toronto Public Health to ensure “the safety and security” of the congregation members.

The building will reopen when the sanitization is complete, and services will resume, the spokesperson said, adding that out of an “abundance of caution,” they will cancel all celebrations, events, and general operations connected to Purim, a Jewish holiday. 

“Anyone who is coughing, sneezing and feeling unwell should not to come into the building and should seek medical guidance,” the spokesperson said. 

“The religious leadership, along with the synagogue’s volunteer lay leadership, are at home under self-isolation in order to protect the well-being of the community.” 

As of Monday morning, 34 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Ontario, including four patients who have recovered. 

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