Greek authorities are rushing to Mt. Athos, a self-governed peninsula in Greece’s north that is comprised of a series of Orthodox Christian monasteries, after eight positive cases of COVID-19 have been recorded.
A 1,000-year-old site and one of the Orthodox Church’s most venerated places, the community is comprised of 20 monasteries and almost 1,700 monks. Women are not allowed as visitors.
The government has dispatched Dr. Sotiris Tsiodras to Karyes, the headquarters of the male-only community for discussions with representatives of the monasteries on how to manage and contain the spread of the virus.
Eight positive cases have been reported at the Monastery of St. Paul and an 85-year-old monk has been transported to a hospital in Thessaloniki in serious condition.
Two more positive cases were reported— one at the Helandariou Monastery and another at Lakoskiti.
This isn’t the first outbreak at the Mt. Athos site — four monks tested positive in March after traveling to Britain but recovered quickly.
Greece’s national broadcaster ERT reported that measures are being considered by the government to contain the spread of the virus amongst the monastic community, including the possibility of the complete closure of the peninsula to outside visitors.
Already, the numbers of people visiting the monasteries is limited and arriving guests are subject to temperature checks.
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