BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Patriarch Porfirio, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the church announced Tuesday, amid an outbreak of infections in the country and the Balkan region.
The religious has developed “very mild symptoms of the virus infection” and remains in quarantine, the institution explained in a statement, adding that it continues to carry out its administrative functions without problems.
The 60-year-old patriarch became the leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church after the death of his predecessor, Irenaeus I, after contracting COVID-19 in November 2020.
Porfirio attended a mass on Sunday in the Republika Srpska, an area of neighboring Bosnia ruled by Serbia, where few people wore a mask.
Serbia reported about 9,000 new positives for COVID-19 on Monday. The number of infections in this nation of seven million inhabitants has increased notably after the celebration of the New Year, which included open-air concerts and the relaxation of social measures.
According to experts, the increase in cases in this latest wave of the pandemic is due to the omicron variant, which spread faster and is expected to make the situation even worse.