Pope Francis Falls Ill Amid Coronavirus Scare in Italy

Gabriela Arevalo
February 28, 2020 - 1:52 pm

Pope Francis has canceled part of his scheduled events for a second day in a row after falling ill.

He was seen coughing and blowing his nose during an Ash Wednesday Mass this week. Earlier in the day, the pontiff greeted people gathered in St. Peter’s Square outside of the Vatican, shaking hands with the public and kissing a baby. He also told well-wishers on Wednesday “I wish, again, to express my closeness to those who are ill with coronavirus and to health-care workers who are caring for them.”

On Thursday, the leader of the Catholic Church skipped a planned Mass due to a “slight indisposition,” and on Friday he canceled his official audiences, though he did celebrate Mass in the morning and planned to adhere to his private meeting schedule for the rest of the day.

The Vatican has not said what illness the Argentinian is suffering from, though The Washington Post reports that it appears to be a cold.

Over 650 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy, primarily in the northern part of the country. The majority of coronavirus cases have mild symptoms that can include cough, nasal congestion, and a mild fever, though severe cases can result in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), kidney failure, and even death.

The 83-year-old bishop of Rome lost part of one lung due to a respiratory illness when he was a young man, but with the exception of sciatica, which makes walking difficult for him, he has had generally good health throughout his papacy.

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