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Serbian Orthodox Church's Patriarch Tests Positive For COVID-19

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Porfirije (file photo)
Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Porfirije (file photo)

Patriarch Porfirije, the head of the influential Serbian Orthodox Church, has tested positive for COVID-19 amid a surge in coronavirus infections in the Balkan nation after massive New Year celebrations that included open-air concerts and relaxed antivirus 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 virus infection and ... will be treated at home," his office said in a statement on January 11, adding that he was carrying out administrative duties entirely without problems.

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

Porfirije last year also went into isolation after being in contact with an infected priest.

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

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

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

With reporting by Reuters and AP

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