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Funeral of prominent coronavirus-denying church figure turns into super-spreader event

Published Nov 5th, 2020 11:27PM EST
Coronavirus Denier
Image: sbw19/Adobe

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  • A prominent church figure who also was a coronavirus denier contracted the infectious disease and died of COVID-19 complications.
  • The funeral of 82-year-old Amfilohije Radovic, the most senior cleric of Montenegro’s Orthodox Church, turned into a super-spreader event. People were not distancing, did not wear masks, and even kissed the bishop’s body.
  • The 90-year-old head of the Serbian Church who attended the service was diagnosed with COVID-19, and others are also suspected to have contracted the illness.

The novel coronavirus started spreading in humans nearly a year ago, and COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March. The virus reached every country on Earth, spreading with ease through the summer and winter. Anyone following the news has been exposed to a constant barrage of coronavirus coverage covering the progress of the pandemic, treatments, and the health measures anyone can take to reduce the risk of transmission. Yet coronavirus deniers still exist, and they usually experience the reality of COVID-19 one way or another. Some of them get to reflect after battling the virus. Others experience severe complications and die.

A prominent figure of the orthodox church in Montenegro ignored the illness until he caught it. 82-year-old Amfilohije Radovic, the most senior cleric in the country, eventually contracted the illness and died of COVID-19. His funeral was scheduled for Sunday and was turned into a super-spreader event. People did not wear masks, and they kissed the bishop’s body, which lay in an open coffin. The 90-year-old head of the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej attended the service and was hospitalized for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Before dying on Friday of COVID-19 complications, Amfilohije used to avoid wearing masks and referred to pilgrimages during the pandemic as “God’s vaccine,” according to BBC News.

Patriarch Irinej and several other people who attended the service on Sunday are believed to have contracted the illness. Amfilohije’s successor suffers from “mild pneumonia.” Pneumonia is one of the respiratory complications encountered in COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

Irinej’s office said in a statement that “His Holiness is hospitalized in a Covid-19 hospital in Belgrade,” but added that “[He remains] without symptoms and is in excellent health.”

Older people usually tend to suffer from various health issues that put them at risk of coronavirus complications. Men are also more likely to die of COVID-19 than women.

Montenegro’s Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic also attended the funeral, reports BBC. Only Vucic wore a mask. The Serbian Orthodox Church is a powerful institution in the two countries, explaining why politicians attended the event, despite the obvious risks.

Both countries are dealing with notable spikes in coronavirus cases, just like the rest of Europe. Events like Amfilohije’s funeral should be avoided at all costs, as large crowds of people who aren’t respecting social distancing measures and who aren’t wearing face masks favor the spread of the illness. Touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with dirty hands that might have touched contaminated surfaces is a COVID-19 transmission risk factor. Kissing the body of a person who died of COVID-19 complications falls into the same type of risky behavior.

Religion has often been at the center of COVID-19 super-spreader events, whether it was large gatherings of people or prominent figures who resisted health measures.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.