The Vatican has reported its first case of coronavirus today – days after Pope Francis tested negative for the virus.
The discovery takes the epidemic to the city-state surrounded by Italy, which has confirmed more than 3,800 cases and 148 deaths due to the virus.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the new case was diagnosed on Thursday and that services in Vatican clinics had been suspended to deep clean the areas.
Most Vatican employees who use its health services live in Italy, on the other side of the border with the 108-acre city state.
From Vatican Media:
Mr. Bruni also told reporters that the Vatican is considering ways to avoid spreading the Covid-19 coronavirus.
“With regard to the upcoming activities of the Holy Father, the Holy See, and the Vatican City State, measures are being studied to prevent the spread of Covid-19”.
Any actions taken, he said, will be done in coordination with measures decreed by the Italian authorities.
The Diocese of Rome has cancelled all “non-sacramental activities” until 15 March.
These include catechism classes, marriage preparation courses, retreats, pilgrimages, and most other group activities.
Eucharistic celebrations continue normally in Rome’s churches. But priests are discouraged from inviting the faithful to exchange the sign of peace. Holy Water fonts are also to be emptied.
Despite these precautionary measures, Caritas Rome says the Church’s acts of charity toward the poor will not stop.
Local churches are encouraged to keep soup kitchens open and to provide shelter for the homeless and refugees, while respecting Italian hygiene and sanitary directives.