MONTREAL -- The death of a 67-year-old man from COVID-19 has left Outremont’s Hasidic community in mourning.

On Wednesday night, the man died alone in hospital from complications that arose from the virus.  

“What we heard is that he was perfectly okay until three days before his death, and then in three days he had fever and he deteriorated very fast,” said Abraham Ekstein, a member of the Hasidic community. “He had difficulty breathing, he went to ICU, and just a few hours later, he passed away.”

Ekstein couldn’t confirm whether or not the man had recently travelled or attended a large wedding that took place in the community just before the government banned all gatherings, but he said it doesn’t matter how he caught the virus. 

“We know that the infection now can happen to anyone.” 

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Because of the province-wide ban on social gatherings, including religious ceremonies, there was no funeral held for the man. 

“In our religion, it’s very important that the body returns to the earth as fast as possible,” Ekstein said. “So he was just taken and he was buried and just members of his family were there. There was no religious ceremony as usual.”

While Ekstein didn’t know the man very well, he said he had a large family split between Montreal and New York. Those in New York weren’t able to travel to Montreal to pay their last respects. 

“It’s very sad, death is always sad but what adds even more to the sadness is the way it happened,” Ekstein said. “It was so fast.”

Ekstein hopes this tragedy will encourage everyone – both within Outremont's Hasidic community and outside of it – to follow government guidelines. 

“You never know,” he said. “You could be okay now, you could look okay, and have the virus in you and infect other people. You could be okay now and get infected by someone.”