Pope Francis tests negative for COVID-19, says Italy report

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had no immediate comment on the report

Updated - March 03, 2020 05:54 pm IST

Published - March 03, 2020 05:53 pm IST - VATICAN CITY

Pope Francis coughs as he recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, March 1, 2020.

Pope Francis coughs as he recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, March 1, 2020.

Pope Francis, who canceled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy because he is suffering from a cold , has tested negative for coronavirus, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported on Tuesday.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had no immediate comment on the report. The 83-year-old Roman Catholic leader, who had part of one lung removed because of an illness decades ago, also canceled most audiences last week.

Pope Francis was to have taken part in the week-long retreat with senior Vatican officials that began on Sunday night at a Church residence south of Rome.

But in a surprise announcement hours earlier, he said he would be following it from his residence in a Vatican guest house.

He has been taken ill at a time when Italy is battling a surging outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus.

The death toll in Italy jumped to 52 on Monday from 34 the day before and the total number of confirmed cases in Europe's worst affected country climbed past the 2,000 mark.

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