COVID19: Cluster at convent, cases among priests

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A growing cluster of COVID-19 cases at a Larnaca nunnery, combined with several priests contracting the virus, has health authorities deeply concerned.

On Monday, the number of nuns infected with the coronavirus from the nunnery increased to 11 out of the 12 residents.

So far, six nuns have been admitted to the hospital, with three discharged.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, the State Health Services Organisation’s (OKYPY) spokesperson Charalampos Charilaou said: “Such clusters in closed institutions always have us deeply concerned”.

Charilaou stressed that such institutions should be strictly applying personal protective measures.

“The Health Ministry decrees need to be observed by everyone. If not, the virus has more chances of infiltrating these facilities and spreading.”

It is believed that the chain of transmission started from tourists who visited the premises during the religious holiday of the Dormition of Mother Mary on 15 August.

Charilaou said another three priests are being treated in an Acute Care Unit at the Limassol General.

They are from three different churches in the Limassol district.

“There are not a lot of cases recorded in nursing homes.

“We believe that the booster shots administrated to residents will help stem the spread of the virus in homes and help protect the elderly who mostly have underlying health conditions”.

Authorities are also vigilant as the new academic year gets underway for primary education.

“We are not particularly concerned that children will contract the virus, as they do not develop serious symptoms.

“Our greatest concern is that they do not pass the virus on to older people, who have a higher chance of being hospitalised, especially if they are unvaccinated.”

Clergy anti-vaxxers

Archbishop Chrysostomos II warned priests and bishops undermining vaccination efforts or encouraging the public to defy COVID restrictions such as mask-wearing will be stricken from the Church’s payroll.

Last week, the Holy Synod reaffirmed its December 2020 decision to back vaccinations and “called on everybody, bishop, clergy, and layperson, to comply.”

Chrysostomos said the pandemic also affected the operation of hotels owned by the Church, one of its main sources of funding.

“Whoever does not comply with the decisions, their salary will not be deposited at the end of the month,” said the Archbishop.

Anti-COVID Morphou Bishop Neophytos has urged people against vaccination but came down with the virus in August.

One of the most vocal opponents of vaccines and government COVID measures, Morphou Bishop Neophytos, said he would not get the jab because he did not want to be “genetically modified”.

The bishop said he would abide by the Holy Synod agreement to stay silent “unless provoked”.