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Pope Francis ‘constantly monitored’ for virus: Vatican

Before Wednesday, the pope had never appeared in public wearing a mask and had continued to receive some visitors in the Apostolic Palace - Vincenzo PINTO / ©AFP
Before Wednesday, the pope had never appeared in public wearing a mask and had continued to receive some visitors in the Apostolic Palace - Vincenzo PINTO / ©AFP

(AFP)

Pope Francis is being “constantly monitored” for signs of the coronavirus, a top Vatican official said Monday, after the 83-year old pontiff met with a cardinal who later tested positive.

Philippine cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, 63, had a private audience with Francis on August 29. He went on to test positive for Covid-19 on his return to Manila on September 10.

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“We are being prudent,” Secretary of State Pietro Parolin told ANSA news agency.

“There is no particular alarm (in the Vatican)”, but the health of the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics was being “constantly monitored,” he added.

Pope Francis, whose birth name is Jorge Bergoglio, has shown little fear for his own health since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic early this year.

The pope talks to those who visit him at the Apostolic Palace without wearing a face mask. Last week he was spotted wearing one for the first time since the start of the pandemic, but he took it off to chat to the faithful.

Francis shunned however his usual practice of shaking hands and kissing babies, and used hand sanitiser which was handed to him by a personal assistant.

The pope was tested for the coronavirus in March when a prelate living in the same residence as him was found to be positive.

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