Thousands attended the funeral of the leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who died of COVID-19 just weeks after leading the open casket service of a bishop who was also killed by the virus.

Despite the spread of the epidemic, many of the mourners who attended the Patriarch Ering’s ceremony in Belgrade did not wear masks or respect social distancing and accept glass covering the body, ignoring the pleas of the Church itself and health officials.

Some priests even avoided covering their faces.

Serbian infection experts said there is no way to prevent the traditional funeral prayer.

Patriarch Ering fell ill after he led the funeral of a bishop who died of COVID-19
A man kisses Patriarch Ering's coffin during the funeral procession at the Temple of Saint Sava
The mourners accepted the glass covering the cleric’s body, contrary to health advice

The 90-year-old cleric died on Friday, three weeks after presiding over the funeral of Bishop Amphilohiji, who passed away. Covid-19 In neighboring Montenegro, where people also kissed the corpse in an open coffin.

It is not known if Patriarch Ering contracted the virus there, but in that case he stayed at home for hours among the crowds, most of whom did not wear masks.

The notable deaths linked to COVID have raised questions about whether some religious institutions are doing enough to address its spread.

Reports of people contracting the virus are increasing after attending services.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic expresses his last respects
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was among those who offered his condolences
Orthodox believers attend the mass of the late Serbian Patriarch Ering during his funeral
Concerns are growing about people being infected after attending services

Like other European countries, Serbia has seen a boom in Corona Virus Cases in recent weeks.

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Its government tightened the restrictions, but the authorities declined to impose restrictions on the church, which has about 12 million followers, most of them in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia.

After recording thousands of new cases of daily infections in the country of seven million people, officials warned that the health system is on the verge of collapsing as the beds run out of hospitals.

Patriarch Ering had great political influence in the region and was known for his criticism of Western policies in the Balkans and the close ties he developed with the Russian Orthodox Church.

His funeral was attended by the high leadership of Serbia, including President Aleksandar Vucic.

Patrik Eering was later buried in a crypt inside the Temple of Saint Sava.