Pope Francis has tested negative for coronavirus for a second time after a Vatican worker who lives in the same residence was reportedly hospitalised due to the disease.
The 83-year-old Pontiff was swabbed yesterday along with those who surround him, who also all tested negative.
A clergyman at Saint Martha’s guest house, which the pope uses as his own residence, has allegedly tested positive for the virus.
The building, which is undergoing a deep clean, is also used by the pope as a place to take meals and have private meetings. He has been largely secluded since coming down with a cold at the end of last month.
The Pontiff, who is said to be in good health, live-streamed a Mass at the Santa Marta church this morning.
Fears were first raised for the pope’s health on Ash Wednesday when he fell ill with a cough, fever, chills and sore throat.
He was swabbed but tested negative for coronavirus, it was revealed on March 3, and is thought instead to have been suffering from a cold.
As well as using the Saint Martha guesthouse, the pope also visits the Vatican Library to record messages for the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics.
The La Stampa and Il Messagro newspapers said the unnamed person has been hospitalised in Rome and steps have been taken to disinfect the building.
The Vatican has been closed since the outbreak began in Italy. Officials are reporting a glimmer of hope, as the number of new infections and death rate both appear to be slowing.
La Stampa additionally reported that Pope Francis has been ‘eating alone in his room for some time’ as a precaution.
‘He spends much of his time in his apartment, and when he moves inside the residence, he keeps the necessary safe distances,’ La Stampa wrote. ‘The anti-contagion has been tight around the pope for weeks.’
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told AFP he could neither confirm nor deny the reports.
There are concerns for the Argentine-born pope if he contracts the virus due to his age and previous health conditions. He lost part of his lung as a young man and suffered from sciatica, a nerve condition that causes pain in his hip.
He has refused to move into the sumptuous papal palace after being elected in March 2013, preferring the guest house.
It is the place where cardinals stay when they gather for conclaves to elect popes and has about 30 residents, according to Il Messaggero, and have a small circle of contacts.
The pope is said to have no plans to move to a different residence despite cases of the disease in Vatican city.
‘The new cases include an employee of the merchandise office and two employees of the Vatican Museums,’ the official news site said.
Italy has remained at the epicentre of Europe’s virus outbreak and has recorded more deaths than China due to the disease. There are four cases of the virus in the Vatican, according to its news website, with the first being reported on March 6.
The pope gave a video address on Tuesday where he urged Christians not to ‘complain about everything’ or indulge in ‘evil’ self-pity.
Francis said that sloth – marked by carelessness, apathy and self-pity – is a ‘poison, a fog that envelops the soul and doesn’t let it live’, before offering prayers for health workers and priests who have died helping those suffering from coronavirus.
Hours later the pope also ran a mass Lord’s Prayer through an online broadcast to help comfort people amid the outbreak.
The pope has been holding his general audiences and Sunday blessings over the internet and television from the official papal library instead of before crowds numbering tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.
Italy has seen a slight fall in its death rate since the outbreak began, recording a lower 683 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to 7,503.
The country also recorded 602 deaths on Monday and 650 on Sunday.
Authorities are hoping that the national shutdown is starting to have an impact, as the number of new cases reported has also begun to drop.