Vatican Spokesman Confirms First Case of Coronavirus

March 6, 2020 Updated: March 6, 2020
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Vatican City officials on Friday confirmed the small city-state’s first COVID-19 coronavirus and closed down several offices in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

The Vatican also closed down a health clinic after a priest from France tested positive for the virus on Thursday. The Vatican put one official who was exposed to the infected priest under quarantine, said spokesman Matteo Bruni in an Associated Press report on Friday.

Bruni said the Vatican official is not showing COVID-19 symptoms but came into contact with the French priest.

It comes as Pope Francis was confirmed to have been suffering from a cold after he missed several events last week. The illness prompted speculation about whether he had the new virus amid an outbreak centered in northern Italy, where thousands of people have been infected in recent weeks.

As a precaution, the Vatican said its Apostolic Library announced on Friday that it would be shuttered all week, AP reported.

Pope Francis, meanwhile, thanked people who were responding to the worldwide outbreak, which has affected tens of thousands of people.

“I wish to express again my closeness to those who are ill with the #coronavirus and to healthcare workers who are caring for them, as well as to civil authorities and all those involved in assisting patients and in containing the spread of the virus,” Francis wrote on Twitter.

On Wednesday, a Vatican spokesperson confirmed that Francis is suffering from the “common cold.” The cold is “running its course, without symptoms linked to other pathologies,” the Vatican said in a statement to the Catholic News Agency. He does not have  “symptoms caused by other diseases.”