Serbian Orthodox Church leader dies from COVID-19

Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej died Friday after contracting the coronavirus. He was 90.

Irinej was last seen in public Nov. 1 at funeral services for Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic, the church's senior bishop in Montenegro who also died from the virus.

Irinej tested positive and was admitted to a hospital in Belgrade Nov. 4 but his condition worsened Nov. 15.

The church said the patriarch died shortly after 7 a.m. local time at a Belgrade military hospital and funeral arrangements will be soon announced.

Bells on churches throughout Serbia tolled and mourners flocked to light candles.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic shared a photograph of Irinej on social media.

"It was an honor to know you. People like you will never come," Vucic said in his post.

Irinej, whose real name is Miroslav Gavrilovic, was born in Cacak in 1930. He graduated from the Kosovar city of Prizren and Orthodox schools in Belgrade.

Gavrilovic was renamed the "Irinej" church in 1959.

Irinej, who undertook different duties within the church, was elected patriarch by the church council in 2010.

He took the ecclesiastical name Irinej in 1959.

Serbia has recently faced a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.

More than 5,000 daily infections have been registered and greater than 20 people have died.

The number of cases exceeded 100,000 Thursday after the country registered 6,109 new cases and 29 deaths in a 24-hour span, according to the Health Ministry.

The number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic is 104,097 in Serbia with 1,110 fatalities.

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