While Pope Francis may have escaped a COVID-19 scare, the residents of Vatican City seem to be vulnerable to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The Holy See press office announced on Saturday that a resident of the Casa Santa Marta— the building where the pope himself resides—had tested positive for the novel coronavirus infection.
The person, who is has been asymptomatic so far, has been removed from the Pope's residence and has been placed in isolation. Those who have been in contact with the person are also said to be following isolation measures. The Vatican also noted that three other citizens or residents who have tested positive for the disease had recovered over the past few days.
Positive Cases Among the Swiss Guards
Also declared in the statement was that all the pandemic health and response measure issued by the Governorate of Vatican City and the Holy See, are being adhered to and the health of all Domus [Casa Santa Marta] residents is constantly monitored." The case has been added to the list of active COVID-19 cases recently announced among the Swiss Guards, reported the Catholic News Agency.
On 15 October, the Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps announced that 11 of its members were found to have contracted the illness. In a statement, the corps said that "arrangements were immediately made to isolate those with positive cases and all appropriate further steps are being taken, along with additional testing.
The statement also added that necessary measured have already put in place for the rotation planning of the Guards, in order to address the risk of the coronavirus in the places where the Swiss Guards serve. Also affirmed in the communiqué was that "the Swiss Guard Corps will communicate further developments on the situation in the coming days."
Impact of the Pandemic on Italy
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy was been one of the worst-affected countries in the world, with over a thousand deaths a day reported for a significant period of time. So far, nearly 403,000 cases and over 36,000 coronavirus deaths have been reported in the European nation. Vatican City, which is an enclave within the city of Rome, Italy, has reported 27 cases so far.
In February, the Catholic community across the world was shaken by the news of Pope Francis having possibly contracted the deadly infection. The religious leader seemed to exhibit symptoms of the disease during the Ash Wednesday service and missed important events such as the penitential liturgy at the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome. However, he was later found not to have the disease, and led the Easter mass, albeit without any worshippers present for it.