- Pope Francis recently had a cold and was photographed coughing and blowing into a handkerchief last week.
- He cancelled multiple audiences and decided not to attend a week-long Lent retreat with senior Vatican officials.
- There was loose speculation Francis may have had coronavirus as the illness spread across Italy, but he tested negative, according to an Italian media report.
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Pope Francis has tested negative for coronavirus days after he cancelled a Lent retreat due to a cold, according to an Italian media report.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told Reuters that he had no comment on the pope’s cold or negative coronavirus test result.
Francis, 83, cancelled most audiences last week after he was photographed coughing and blowing into a handkerchief.
On Sunday he was supposed to join senior Vatican officials at a Church residence south of Rome for a week-long Lent retreat, but he cancelled last minute.
He said instead, he would stay at his residence in a Vatican guest house and watch the retreat from afar.
Francis has been relatively healthy throughout his tenure as pope, though decades before taking the title he had part of one of his lungs removed because of a childhood illness.
He started to show signs of a cold as Italy faced an outbreak of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.
At least 52 people have died from the illness in Italy, and the country case count has climbed over 2,000. More than half of the cases are in the country’s Lombardy region.
Lombardy is now facing a healthcare shortage because of the virus, and officials have asked retired doctors and nursing students to help care for COVID-19 patients in the region.
The coronavirus has infected more than 90,000 people worldwide, and more than 3,000 have died from the virus.
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