Eight monks catch virus at remote Greek Orthodox site

Eight monks have tested positive for coronavirus and their monastery in a remote Orthodox Christian community in northern Greece has been quarantined, a Church official said on Monday.

One of the monks was taken to hospital in Thessaloniki in a serious condition, said the official who declined to be named. 

It is not the first outbreak at the Mount Athos site -- four monks tested positive in March after travelling to Britain but recovered quickly. 

Mount Athos, a 1,000-year-old site and one of the Orthodox Church's most venerated places, has 20 monasteries and almost 1,700 monks. 

The community, known for its austere rules, is almost most completely isolated in a mountainous nature reserve in the Macedonia region. 

The country's lockdown from March to May hit the Church hard, wrecking its Easter celebrations. 

Church leaders disputed some of the science behind the confinement rules -- agreeing to halt masses but refusing to ban communion.

Greece has so far registered 338 deaths and more than 15,000 infections from the virus.

Topics: coronavirus disease , monks , positive , Orthodox Christian community , Greece
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