File Photo: The Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ is pictured in the New Administrative Capital (NAC), east of Cairo, Egypt January 6, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church has announced the first-ever coronavirus cases detected among its clergymen after two priests tested positive for the virus, church officials confirmed to Ahram Online.
Church spokesman Boulis Halim told Ahram Online on Monday that Reverend Bishoy Naroz, a monk at Qena’s Church of the Virgin Mary, tested positive for the virus.
Father Amonious Fares, deputy of the Archbishopric of Qena, said in press statements that Naroz felt unwell and showed symptoms during Maundy Thursday, or the Thursday before Easter.
He later isolated himself before testing positive for the virus, Fares said, adding that he is now in stable condition.
Priest Bishoy, the media coordinator of Coptic Orthodox Damietta Diocese, told Ahram Online that the deputy archbishopric of Damietta, Sarabamon Mitry, also tested positive for the disease.
He added that Mitry has been receiving treatment at a Kafr El-Sheikh isolation hospital since his admission a month ago.
“No other cases were detected among the Archbishopric’s priests,” he said.
The source of infection remains unknown.
The announcement comes nearly a month after Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church confirmed that Reverend Yacob N. Ghaly of the Virgin Mary and St. Pachomius Coptic Orthodox Church in New York tested positive for the virus.
The Church is continuing its shutdown of all churches nationwide and the suspension of masses as part of the preventative measures implemented by the state to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The measures also include the closure of church halls designated for funeral services and the limiting of funeral services to the family of the deceased only.
The Church has also ordered that every diocese designates only one church for funerals and banned visits to monasteries.
The restrictions disrupted Easter mass celebrations, with the mass held with no public participation.
Coptic Orthodox Christians – who comprise a substantial majority of Christians in Egypt – celebrated at home due to a nationwide night-time curfew and the suspension of prayers and activities at all houses of worship.
Egypt reported on Monday its highest single-day coronavirus death toll at 20, plus 248 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 4,782 and 337 deaths.