11 Swiss Guards have tested positive for covid-19 in Vatican City.
The Vatican has confirmed that a further seven Swiss Guards have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing to 11 the total number of soldiers infected.
The Holy See issued a statement saying that all precautions had been taken to prevent contagion risks in the areas where the guards perform their duties, reports Italian news agency ANSA.
The soldiers were immediately placed in isolation and further checks are being carried out, the Vatican says.
All of the Swiss Guards now wear face masks, both indoors and outdoors, regardless of whether they were on duty, stated Holy See press officer Matteo Bruni.
The news has led to concerns for the health of Pope Francis, given his age and the fact that he had part of one lung removed when in his 20s.
After weeks of mingling with the faithful after his Wednesday papal audiences, without wearing a mask, Pope Francis remained at a distance from pilgrims this week, reports the Catholic News Agency.
The pontiff apologised, saying: “Forgive me if today I greet you from afar, but I believe that if we all, as good citizens, fulfill the authorities’ requirements, this will be a help to end this pandemic.”
News of the new infections comes about 10 days after 38 new Swiss Guards were sworn in at a ceremony in Vatican City.
Swiss Guards belong to the world's oldest standing army which celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2006.
The guards must be male and of Swiss nationality, as well as being Catholic, unmarried and aged between 19 and 30. They must also have undergone intensive Swiss military training and be a minimum height of 174 cm.
In addition to protecting the pope, the army performs ceremonial duties and assists at Vatican functions, and is famous for its ancient halberd weapons and its blue, gold and red uniform.
Photo credit: A.J. Olnes / Shutterstock.com.
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Covid-19 in the Vatican: 7 more Swiss Guards test positive
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