Coronavirus Reaches Pope Francis’ Residence in Vatican

Police officers wearing masks patrol an empty St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Pope Francis held his weekly general audience in the privacy of his library as the Vatican implemented Italy’s drastic coronavirus lockdown measures, barring the general public from St. Peter’s Square and taking precautions …
AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

ROME — An Italian prelate who lives in the same residence as Pope Francis tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus on Wednesday and has been hospitalized in intensive care, Italian media report.

Monsignor Gianluca Pezzoli, the 58-year-old head of the Italian section of the Vatican’s Secretary of State, lives in the Santa Marta residence where Pope Francis also lives, along with several other priests and prelates who work in the Vatican services.

Comprehensive disinfection measures have reportedly been undertaken for the entire building.

The pope has his own apartment in the residence and reportedly has not been in direct contact with Msgr. Pezzoli. For some time, he no longer eats his meals in the common dining room and spends the bulk of his time in his top floor apartment. His personal secretary brings him lunch and dinner.

On Tuesday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni reported on four cases of COVID-19 at the Vatican, making Msgr. Pezzoli the fifth. The others were a priest from Bergamo who went through the Vatican City medical center, an employee of the merchandise service, and two employees of the Vatican Museums.

At the end of February, the pope, who had part of one lung removed in his youth, caught a cold, obliging him to cancel a number of audiences and travel plans and sparking rumors over the severity of his affliction.

In early March, Francis submitted himself to a test for coronavirus as a “precaution,” Italian media reported, and the test results came back negative.

Now Francis continues to address the faithful but he does so by video streaming. His daily Mass from the chapel of the Santa Marta residence is broadcast live each morning and other regular events — such as his weekly general audience and Sunday Angelus prayer — are streamed from his private library in the Apostolic Palace.

This week, the Vatican announced that the pope’s upcoming journey to the island of Malta has been canceled.

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