Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday quarantined the fourth monastery managed by the Orthodox church which had resisted confinement, as more monks became infected with the coronavirus.
Pokrovsky Golosiivsky monastery in Kiev was closed after twelve of its monks tested positive for COVID-19, Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
The monasteries in quarantine all belong to the Moscow-aligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church which had defied the government’s plea to stay at home and encouraged worshippers to attend services.
The Church’s main, iconic Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery was closed last week as almost 150 monks were infected there and at least three of them died.
Fears of a fresh spike in coronavirus cases spread after worshippers gathered in the Church’s second-largest monastery in the town of Pochaiiv in central Ukraine to celebrate Easter last weekend.
Police launched a probe into the breach of lockdown rules during the Easter service at the Assumption Pochaiiv Lavra as well as at another monastery in the east of the country.
The Church was even accused of trying to spread the infection on purpose at the behest of Moscow, Kiev’s bitter foe since it annexed Crimea in 2014 and supported the separatists in the east.
“They are saboteurs,” a Ukrainian official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Church spokesman Archbishop Kliment Vecherya rejected the claims. “We are observing a wave of propaganda against our confession,” he told AFP.
Ukraine has confirmed 6,592 cases of COVID-19, including 174 deaths.
The country banned all mass gatherings and people must wear masks outside and not venture out in groups of more than two.