BELGRADE, Serbia

The Serbian Orthodox Church has paid a heavy price for flouting restrictions amid the pandemic by losing prominent figures.

Thousands of people attended the funeral of Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic spreading the coronavirus to Serbia and Montenegro. He died on Oct. 30 due to COVID-19.

The followers of the leader paid their respects to him by kissing his body.

Another leader of the church, Patriarch Irinej caught the virus at the funeral and was hospitalized a few days later. His condition worsened and he died on Nov. 20.

No lessons were learnt at his funeral apart from the fact that his coffin was covered with glass to minimize contact.

The people who attended the funeral were offered customary drinks with the same spoon, maximizing the risk of spreading infection.

Soon after, Bishop David, who led the funeral, also tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized.

Other senior leaders of the church, Bishop Artemije, Bishop Milutin and Archpriest Josifov, also died of the virus.

Many others tested positive for the virus.

After the string of fatalities, the council meeting planned in spring to choose a new leader for the church was postponed.

Montenegro has been registering 700 new cases daily since the beginning of November. For Serbia, this figure is 8,000.

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