Eleven Vatican Swiss Guards now Covid-19 positive

A Vatican Swiss guard stands to attention during Pope Francis' weekly general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday, October 14 Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Eleven members of the Vatican Swiss Guards, the colourfully dressed corps that has protected popes for 500 years, have now tested positive for Covid-19, according to officials.

This content was published on October 16, 2020 - 10:12
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“As a result of tests over the past days, seven further Swiss Guards have tested positive, which brings the number of established people taken ill to 11 Guards,” said a statementExternal link published on the Swiss Guards’ website on Thursday evening.

On Monday it emerged that four guards had already tested positive for the virus.

The statement said that those who had tested positive would go into isolation immediately and would be tested again.

Nearly all the 113-strong Swiss Guards are single men who live in a barracks just inside the Vatican gates. The commanders and married members live in separate apartments. All members are Swiss and Catholic.

Prevention measures

The Vatican last week instituted prevention measures stipulating that everyone had to wear masks, even outdoors, and practise social distancing.

But some have noted that Pope Francis does not wear a mask at his general audiences and sometimes comes in relatively close contact with visitors, who are wearing masks.

Some of his closest aides have not been wearing masks at the audiences.

The Swiss Guards’ statement added that further measures had now been taken for its members, including adjusting the shift planning, “in order to rule out any risk of an infection at the service posts where the Vatican Swiss Guards are in service”.

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