Pope Francis has been tested for coronavirus after he fell ill and was forced to cancel a religious retreat near Rome. Reports say he has tested negative.

The pontiff had been due to go to a Lent retreat, but he did not go – the first time he has not attended the event during his papacy – because he was suffering from a heavy cold. The results for Covid-19 came back negative, according to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero this morning. 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 cancelled most audiences last week. 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.

Coronavirus in Italy

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.

Also read: Pope Francis apologises for slapping a woman


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