Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch tested positive for COVID-19

Patriarch Porfirije, head of the influential Serbian Orthodox Church, tested positive for COVID-19 amid an increase in coronavirus infections in the Balkan nation after massive New Year’s celebrations that included outdoor concerts and relaxed anti-virus rules.

Porfirije, 60, became the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church after the previous patriarch, Irinej, died of COVID-19 in November 2020 at the age of 90.

Porfirije “remains with very mild symptoms of the viral infection and (…) will be treated at home”, his office said in a January 11 statement, adding that he carried out his administrative duties without any problems.

On January 9, Porfirije attended a mass ceremony in Republika Srpska, the Serbian entity in neighboring Bosnia, where few people wore face masks.

Last year, Porfirije also isolated himself after coming into contact with an infected priest.

The Serbian Orthodox Church has some 12 million followers, mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia.

Serbia, a country of 7 million people, has recorded 1,359,544 infections and 12,936 deaths from coronavirus.

The country reported nearly 9,000 new infections on January 10.

With reports from Reuters and AP

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