Update 16/11: Abbot Bartholomew from the Esfigmenou monastery in Karyes said the following on the radio on November 12th: “We have issues with the fraudulent certificates that are trying to enter Mount Athos and they do not care if these people are positive or if they will transmit the virus. Many, mainly from Romania, have been found with fraudulent certificates or putting antiseptic on their noses and so that they test negative after the rapid test, which is a requirement before entering Mount Athos. That means they are more disciplined because they are from another country.”- source Orthodoxtimes.com.
Update 4/11: Orthodoxtimes.com says on 3/11 that Mount Athos is plunged into an unprecedented health crisis. There are at least 50 COVID infections, with some raising the number to 70! In just one day last Saturday, 8 cases were recorded. Among the last victims of the coronavirus is the monk Dionysios from the cell of Kartsonai in the skete of Saint Anne. Monk Panteleimon from Saint Anne was intubated, while a few days ago Fr. Prodromos from Karyes and one of his subordinates had to be intubated.
According to Mount Athos, the whole situation is aggravated by Romanian pilgrims who have been reaching Mount Athos in large numbers lately and have devised various ways to be able to pass the rapid tests they are forced to undergo upon entering the monastic state.
28/10/2021: An increase in coronavirus cases has been observed on Mount Athos in recent days and several monks are being treated in hospitals in northern Greece. Today the proposal to close Mount Athos and forbid the access of pilgrims will be on the table at the Holy Epistatia. The monasteries of Pantokratoros, Xenofontos, Vatopedi and the skiti of the Profitou Elias are already closed. In Vatopedi, there are even 12 cases of coronavirus among monks who are isolated.
At least three monks from monasteries and skitis are being treated in hospitals in Thessaloniki. One of them, a 50-year-old from Agia Anna, is intubated and his condition is characterized by doctors as particularly critical.
The coronavirus is spreading rapidly on Mount Athos due to the coenobitic lifestyle of the monks, who all eat together and live in shared accommodation. In many cases, they do not seek medical attention in a timely manner and refuse to be hospitalized. Due to the inaccessibility of the area and the distance between the monasteries, it is difficult to determine the exact number of cases.
Some monasteries are taking a hard line on the issue of health protocols, while others are taking no action. Pilgrims stated that they were not allowed to enter a monastery because they were wearing a mask. The monks told them that they could wear the masks “at the carnival of Patras, but not on Mount Athos”. In another monastery, they told the pilgrims that if they do not take off the mask, they would not receive tsipouro and sweets.
In the Athonite State there is great concern about the course of business and a possible travel ban, also in connection with the arrival of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeou on November 26-28.
credits: Makedonia 25/10
On September 14th skai.gr already reported that 1000 monks had been infected by the corona virus and eight had died. Only 20% of the monks had been vaccinated. Note: this news has not been confirmed by others sources.
Wim Voogd, 28/10