Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, 83, Hospitalised with Coronavirus

Berlusconi
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

ROME (AP) — Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, who has a history of heart and other medical problems, was admitted to a Milan hospital early Friday as a precaution to monitor his coronavirus infection, a top aide said.

Sen. Lucia Ronzulli told RAI state TV Friday morning that the media mogul, 83, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week, was doing well. She said he was undergoing “precautionary monitoring” of his infection.

“He passed the night well,” she said.

State radio later said Berlusconi was admitted to San Raffaele hospital, where his private doctor is based, shortly after midnight.

Sky TG24, reporting from outside the hospital, said Berlusconi had the “beginnings of pneumonia” and was given an oxygen mask to aid breathing. Italian media have stressed Berlusconi isn´t in intensive care. Sky also said he arrived by private car, walked into the hospital, where he had a CT scan early Friday shortly after arrival.

On Thursday, Berlusconi, speaking in a strong but somewhat nasal voice from his estate on the outskirts of Milan, told his supporters he no longer had fever or pain.

Italian media have said two of his adult children also were recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and are self-isolating.

“Unfortunately this isn’t a cold,” La Stampa newspaper said he told the daily on Thursday. “Now it touches me – but not only me, but also my family – I realize more than ever how grave” the pandemic is.

“I’m aware of how much sorrow it has sowed in so many families, of how much pain it has caused so many people. I think of all those who aren’t here any more, I think of those who lost their loved ones,” the Turin daily quoted Berlusconi as saying.

He was further quoted as saying that earlier in the week, beside fever, he had muscle and bone pain, “but it passed.”

COVID-19 can be worrisome in people with other medical conditions, and Berlusconi has a history of serious medical problems. In 1997, he successfully battled prostate cancer, including by surgery. In 2006, he had heart tests at San Raffaele after fainting during a speech. A few weeks later he was fitted with a pacemaker at a U.S. hospital.

He also has had bowel surgery for an obstruction and suffered an inflammatory eye condition in the past.

Berlusconi spent some of his summer vacation at his seaside villa on Sardinia’s Emerald Coast. Many of Italy’s recent cases of COVID-19 have been linked to clusters in people who vacationed on Sardinia.

According to Italian media, at the urging of family members, he spent a few weeks at another one of his villas, in France, early in Italy’s COVID-19 outbreak, which was particularly devastating in Lombardy, where Berlusconi’s home and business empire is based.

On Thursday, the three-time former premier vowed to keep campaigning in upcoming regional elections in Italy for the centre-right party, Forza Italia, that he created more than 25 years ago. The party has steadily lost popularity with voters in recent years as Berlusconi battled legal problems linked to his media business and his famed ‘bunga bunga’ parties.

After being convicted of tax fraud in 2013, he had to surrender his Senate seat. He is currently a Member of the European Parliament.

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