LAST UPDATE: 14:15
The encyclical, which has been sent to all the monasteries of Mount Athos after an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Community, sets up to ten visitors per monastery, as a measure to curb the COVID-19 spread.
It also prohibits the movement of visitors to a monastery other than the one for which approval is given. The measure mainly refers to visitors who work in the monasteries, associates, suppliers and employees and significantly reduces the possibility of visiting other pilgrims on Mount Athos.
The issuance of the directive to the monasteries was deemed necessary after the appearance of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Agiou Pavlou Monastery, one in the Hilandar monastery and another suspected case in Lakoskiti.
There is a National Public Health Organization unit on Mount Athos for further investigation of suspected cases, while a monk from the Agiou Pavlou Monastery was transported and hospitalized in Thessaloniki. Both monasteries have been quarantined.
It is reminded that a lockdown for Mount Athos was being considered after eight COVID-19 cases in Agiou Pavlou Monastery were confirmed. According to information from protothema.gr, the infectious disease specialist Sotiris Tsiodras traveled to the area, along with the General Secretary of Civil Protection, Vasilis Papageorgiou, after the outbreak of the COVID-19 in the area.
A wide-ranging meeting took place in the presence of the administrative authorities of Mount Athos to assess the situation and make new decisions about what should be done in the future in the area. “There is a fear of more cases and sample checks will be carried out elsewhere. The possibility of closing Mount Athos in a short time is open,” as reported by sources from Mount Athos to protothema.gr.
The Holy Community met today in Karyes in order to assess the situation that has been a matter of concern for the monks. According to information, the Holy Community has kept the number of pilgrims visiting Mount Athos to a minimum, and they all have their temperatures checked before their departure from the ports of Ouranoupolis and Ierissos. “We do not know to what extent all the prescribed measures were properly observed on Mount Athos. There is a great fear that the spread will be huge.”
The monk who has been admitted to a hospital in Thessaloniki remains in critical condition. Information indicates that Sotiris Tsiodras contacted the hospital asking to be informed about his condition.