Vatican offers free covid-19 tests to homeless

Rome's poor and homeless offered free coronavirus tests in St Peter's Square.

Pope Francis is offering free covid-19 tests to Rome’s poor and homeless as one of the "concrete gestures" to mark the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor, which will be celebrated on Sunday 15 November, announced the Vatican.

The tests are provided at a clinic under the colonnades of St Peter’s Square - established at the request of Pope Francis several years ago - which offers the homeless showers and haircuts as well as medical services.

The clinic is open from 8.00 to 14.00 and over the last two weeks it has been carrying out 50 swabs a day, in addition to the flu vaccine, said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation.

Under the initiative, which will continue indefinitely - reports Reuters - those who test negative receive a certificate to enter a shelter, while those who test positive are directed to further treatment.

Among the other initiatives, the pope is sending 350,000 protective face masks to school children in the city's disadvantaged suburbs, as well as 5,000 food packages for poor families in Roman parishes, reports ANSA.