High death rate as Serbia’s Orthodox Church neglects anti-covid measures

The Serbian Orthodox Church paid a heavy price for its disregard for measures to prevent coronavirus, which led to the death of the head of the church, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia.

Last week, Patriarch Irinej died as a result of the virus after the church continued to allow funerals attended by thousands of people to be held.

On 30 October, the head of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro, Bishop Amfilohije, died of coronavirus, sparking controversy about the lack of adherence to social distancing and other COVID-19 preventative measures by the church.

The funeral of one of the most prominent religious figures for Serbs in Montenegro was attended by the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Patriarch Irinej.

In early November, Patriarch Irinejn was transferred to hospital where he passed away on 19 November following a severe deterioration of his condition. No COVID-19 measures were taken during Irinejn's funeral.

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It was also announced that Bishop David, in charge of Irinej's funeral, tested positive for coronavirus and was taken to hospital.

Bishop Artemy, one of the most prominent figures of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Bishop Milutin, and High Priest Josephov also died of coronavirus.

The deaths have led to a crisis within the church as senior members now need to be elected.

Serbia has reported more than 163,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 1,500 deaths, according to Worldometer.