March 3, 2020 / 6:34 PM / a month ago

Vatican says pope only has a cold, symptoms not related 'to other pathologies'

FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis coughs as he leads the weekly Angelus prayer in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 1, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis, who cancelled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy, is suffering only from a cold that is “without symptoms related to other pathologies,” the Vatican said on Tuesday.

A statement followed a report in an Italian newspaper that said the pope had tested negative for coronavirus. It did not say whether the pope had been given a test for the virus.

“The cold the Holy Father was diagnosed as having is taking its course without symptoms related to other pathologies,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

Francis was to have taken part in a week-long retreat with senior Vatican officials that began on Sunday night at a Church residence south of Rome, but did not go at the last minute.

Bruni said the 83-year-old pope, who had part of one lung removed because of an illness decades ago, was saying Mass every morning and following the retreat from his residence in a Vatican guest house.

Francis has been taken ill at a time when Italy is battling a surging outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus.

The death toll in Italy jumped to 79 on Tuesday from 52 the day before and the total number of confirmed cases in Europe’s worst affected country climbed past the 2,500 mark.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Chris Reese and Alexandra Hudson

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