A 76-year-old monk in Mount Athos, which was shut down in November as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, has died from the Coronavirus leading to six monasteries on the peninsula being quarantined.
Athanasios Martinos, the monastic community’s Civil Governor told a local news website that, “The situation is under control. A total of six μonasteries are currently in quarantine, which is in fact coming to an end. Several cases of infections among monks have been reported recently.”
He acknowledged, however, that the monks and people living in the monasteries weren’t always following health protocols to wear masks and keep safe social distances, leading to the facilities being overrun while he said it wasn’t a problem.
Martinos said seven monks were being treated in hospitals in Thessaloniki and Polygyros, one of whom had underlying health issues which could make the cases more serious and potentially fatal.
“Recently, several infections appeared and so checks began at the entrance gates. So far, three positive tests have been identified, one sailor and two workers, who were asymptomatic and were not allowed to enter,” he said.
The monasteries and the local health center had been provided with rapid antigen tests, which were conducted on those who showed symptoms or were assessed as possible cases, said Kathimerini.
Greek authorities banned visits to the monastic community on Dec. 7, after several infections were reported but workers and civil servants there are still allowed to enter with no report whether they were observing health measures.
Mt. Athos governs as an autonomous polity within the Hellenic Republic, and home to 20 monasteries under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.