COVID-19 cases rise in Georgia, as some health care workers resist vaccinations
The Georgian Orthodox Church does not intend to change the ritual of the ceremonies due to the threat of the spread of a new infection
The Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) does not intend to amend the Orthodox rituals and the format of the services due to the threat of the spread of the new coronavirus infection COVID-19.
Earlier, the director of the Tbilisi Infectious Diseases Hospital, Tengiz Tsertsvadze, said that against the background of active preventive work carried out by the Georgian authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country, he is a supporter of using disposable spoons for the Holy Communion ritual..
However, in a statement dated March 1, the Patriarchate of Georgia noted that the practice of using one device for the sacrament has a thousand-year history. According to the GOC, over the centuries, despite various epidemics, «Orthodox believers were not afraid to partake of communion with one spoonful of common chalice». The Patriarchate announced that it is not going to make exceptions this time..
The head of the National Center for Disease Control, Amiran Gamkrelidze, said in response that his department gives general recommendations regarding the observance of hygiene standards, but is not entitled to interfere with the rules for conducting religious rituals..
COVID-19 in Georgia and the region
Since February 26, three citizens have been diagnosed with coronavirus infection in Georgia. Two of them visited Iran, and one infected citizen — in Italy. All of them are being treated at the Tbilisi Infectious Diseases Hospital. 97 people are in quarantine nationwide.
In order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the Georgian authorities on February 26 temporarily closed the land border between Georgia and Iran, and also temporarily suspended flights with both Iran and China. At the same time, due to the decline in demand for tickets, airlines have significantly reduced the number of flights to Italy, in which the largest number of people in Europe are infected with the new coronavirus..
The National Center for Disease Control of Georgia urged employers not to allow those employees who have recently visited Italy to work for two weeks. According to the decision of the Georgian authorities, spring break in Georgian public schools began a week earlier than planned. Also, from March 2 to March 16, the educational process was suspended in kindergartens. Georgian theaters temporarily suspended work.
Georgian Foreign Ministry urged citizens to avoid travel to countries with a high risk of infection with COVID-19, in particular to China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy and South Korea.
As for neighboring states, on March 1, Armenia officially confirmed the first case of coronavirus infection. Azerbaijan announces the registration of 3 cases of COVID-19 on its territory. In Russia, according to official data, three infected with the new coronavirus.
In total, by the morning of March 2, about 90 thousand cases of infection with a new coronavirus were recorded in the world, of which more than three thousand were fatal, 45 thousand were recognized as recovered, the rest continue to be treated.
Doctors, politicians and the GOC
George Mchedlishvili from the International Black Sea University believes that both politicians and doctors in Georgia try not to comment on the decisions of the GOC, since «for any opinion expressed», which will contradict the position of the Patriarchate, according to him, may have consequences.
The political scientist claims that to openly show his secularity is — a losing strategy for political parties in Georgia. The expert gives the only example — party «Girchi», which openly criticizes the Church. The rating of this party, according to various opinion polls, Mchedlishvili notes, does not exceed 3%. While the parties with the most popular support — ruling «Georgian dream» and opposition «United national movement» ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, at all stages, i.e. being in opposition and in power, «always flirted with the Patriarchy and provided the GOC with privileges».
«Even such authority figures as the leaders of the National Center for Disease Control shun the truth, since doubts about the use of a common spoon in religious rituals can appeal to discontent on the part of the clergy, and as a result, it is possible that the flock will lose confidence in the recommendations of doctors, and in the case of politicians, they are more likely to lose significant electoral support in the elections», — said Mchedlishvili in his commentary for the Russian Service «Voices of America».
According to research by the US National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), the GOC has been in the lead in the ranking of institutions over the years (89-92%). At the same time, according to the latest NDI poll, which was conducted from November 19 to December 13 last year, the Georgian army had the highest approval rate among institutions. — 52%. The Georgian Orthodox Church was in second place with 50%, and the police with 43% approval rating on — third. At that time, 2, 1 thousand people took part in the survey..