Pope Francis is suffering from a cold and not the coronavirus, according to a new report.
The 83-year-old pope tested negative for the coronavirus that is sweeping through Italy, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni offered no immediate comment on the report.
On Friday, Bruni downplayed the severity of the pope’s condition.
“There is no evidence that would lead to diagnosing anything but a mild indisposition,” he said then.
The pope also canceled most of his audiences last week, and was seen coughing and sneezing during public appearances.
According to an Italian newspaper, #PopeFrancis tested negative for the #coronavirus. He is resting at the #Vatican this week after staying home from a Lent retreat due to a cold. https://t.co/ImWfulG2Ei
— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) March 3, 2020
On Sunday, Pope Francis announced that he was not attending a Lenten retreat because of his health.
“Unfortunately a cold prevents me from participating this year. I will be following the meditation from here,” he said, according to the New York Post.
Italy has been hard hit by the virus, with at least 52 deaths — all hitting people between the ages of 63 and 95.
As of Tuesday morning, there were more than 2,000 confirmed cases in Italy, according to CNBC.
“Italy is a country of old people,” Professor Massimo Galli, the director of infectious diseases at Sacco hospital in Milan, told The Guardian.
“The elderly with previous pathologies are notoriously numerous here. I think this could explain why we are seeing more serious cases of coronavirus here, which I repeat, in the vast majority of cases start mildly and cause few problems, especially in young people and certainly in children,” he said.
“Our life expectancy is among the highest in the world. But unfortunately, in a situation like this, old people are more at risk of a serious outcome.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. have issued a warning against all non-essential travel to Italy because of the virus.
Delta Air Lines has suspended flights to Milan, which is in the region hardest hit by the virus.
Flights are scheduled to resume May 1, according to CNN.
Lost in all the panic/hysteria on twitter are some really important developments coming out of Italy, goving new info on the virus and developing treatment:
1) Patients that are being treated are recovering from the virus in less than 48 hours
— Alicia Smith (@Alicia_Smith19) February 28, 2020
One Italian official tried to suggest that the picture might be less gloomy than it has appeared.
“What is comforting is that 50 percent of the 258 people who tested positive [in the last 24 hours] have no symptoms or are being looked after at home,” Angelo Borrelli, head of the country’s civil protection agency, told reporters, according to The New York Times.
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