By Hannah Brockhaus
The Holy See press office said Saturday a resident of the Vatican hotel where Pope Francis also lives has tested positive for COVID-19.
The person has been temporarily moved out of the Casa Santa Marta residence and placed in isolation, the Oct. 17 statement said. Anyone who came into direct contact with the person is also observing a period of isolation.
The patient is so-far asymptomatic, the Vatican said. It noted that in recent days, three other positive cases among residents or citizens of the city state have recovered.
The statement also added that pandemic health measures issued by the Holy See and the Governorate of Vatican City continue to be followed and “the health of all Domus [Casa Santa Marta] residents is constantly monitored.”
The case within Pope Francis’ residence is added to the active coronavirus cases among Swiss Guards.
The Pontifical Swiss Guard announced Oct. 15 that a total of 11 members had now contracted COVID-19.
The army of 135 soldiers said in a statement “the isolation of positive cases was immediately arranged and further checks are being carried out.”
It also emphasized that the guard is following strict new Vatican measures to contain the virus and would offer an update on the situation “in the next few days.”
Italy was one of Europe’s worst-hit countries during the first wave of the coronavirus. More than 391,611 people total have tested positive for COVID-19 and 36,427 have died in Italy as of Oct. 17, according to government statistics. Cases are once again rising with more than 12,300 active cases recorded in Rome’s region of Lazio.
Pope Francis met Oct. 17 with members of the Carabinieri, Italy’s national gendarmerie, who serve in a company responsible for an area near the Vatican.
He thanked them for their work in keeping the area of the Vatican safe during events with pilgrims and tourists from around the world, and for their patience with the many people, including priests, who stop them to ask questions.
“Even if your superiors do not see these hidden acts, you know well that God sees them and does not forget them!” he said.
Pope Francis also noted that every morning, when he enters his study in the Apostolic Palace, he goes first to pray before an image of Our Lady, and then he looks out of the window onto St. Peter’s Square.
“And there, at the end of the square, I see you. Every morning I greet you with my heart and thank you,” he said.