Pope coronavirus fears: Panic after four members of Pope’s elite Swiss Guard test positive
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The Vatican said in a statement the results are in addition to three other residents or citizens of the tiny Vatican City-state who have tested positive in recent weeks. All the Swiss Guard members who tested positive have mild symptoms. The Vatican confirmed they have now entered isolation, while efforts are being made to trace those with whom they had been in direct contact.
The four Swiss Guard members are believed to have become the first in the corps to return positive coronavirus test results.
Pope Francis is at high risk from coronavirus due to his age of 83-years-old.
Vatican press office director Matteo Bruni said: “Over the weekend some positive Covid-19 cases were detected among the Swiss Guards. At present, these are four guards with symptoms, all placed in isolation.
“In these hours, the necessary checks are being carried out among those who may have been in direct contact with them.”
He added the four guards are in addition to “three other positives found in recent weeks among residents and citizens of the Vatican State, all with mild symptoms and for which all the necessary measures of isolation at home and verification of the people involved have been observed.”
Referring to new issues introduced last week by the Governorate of Vatican City State, Mr Bruni explained all guards have now been instructed to wear face masks both indoors and outdoors, regardless of whether they are on duty.
They must observe all other strict rules aimed at preventing the rapid spread of coronavirus.
Nearly all of the Swiss Guards are single men live in a barracks just inside the Vatican gates. The commanders and married members live in separate apartments. All members have Swiss nationality.
Pope Francis holds regular general audiences and often comes into close contact with visitors, who are wearing masks.
But often, these visitors lower their masks so the Pope can hear them, and security at the Vatican have not intervened to ask them to cover their mouth and nose.
However, the four positive coronavirus tests from the Swiss Guards will spark renewed fears over the Pope’s health.
Earlier today, he met with Cardinal George Pell, welcoming him for a private audience in the Apostolic Palace after the Cardinal’s sex abuse conviction was overturned earlier this year.
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But both men did not wear a protective face covering, despite the recent positive coronavirus test results from the four Swiss Guards.
Fears around the Pope’s health escalated in March when a member of staff tested positive for COVID-19 close to the start of the crisis.
Then during a service on Ash Wednesday in St Peter’s Basilica, he was seen blowing his nose, coughing, and rubbing his eyes.
He was seen to be coughing and sneezing while delivering a blessing in St Peter’s Square following four days of not being seen in public.
Health fears increased further after the Pope was forced to call off a week-long retreat over Lent.
But he insisted at the time: “Unfortunately a cold will force me not take part this year.
“I will follow the meditations from here.”
Italy, which surrounds Vatican City, was initially one of the worst-hit countries in the world as it desperately tried to curb the rapid spread of coronavirus.
On Monday, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre reported there have so far been more than 354,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 36,11 from the virus in the country.
Like many other countries, the Italian Government is set to introduce further restrictions following a surge in new infections.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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