Pope offers free Covid-19 tests at the Vatican for homeless people
- Initiative comes as part of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor
- The swabs will be offered at a clinic off St. Peter’s Square set up by the pope
- 50 coronavirus tests will be done every day and the scheme will run indefinitely
- Italy surpassed one-million infections on Wednesday, the tenth highest globally
Pope Francis is offering free coronavirus tests at the Vatican to Rome’s poor and homeless people, the Vatican said on Thursday.
The announcement comes as part of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor activities, which have been reduced this year due to the pandemic.
Swabs are being offered at a clinic off St. Peter’s Square that the pope set up several years ago to provide basic medical care to destitute people, some of whom live on the streets in the neighbourhood around the Vatican.
The Vatican will offer free Covid-19 tests to Rome’s poor and homeless in an initiative announced as part of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor. Pictured: Pope Francis holding a weekly private and live TV-streaming audience from the library of the apostolic palace in the Vatican yesterday
Italy surpassed grim one-million infections milestone on Wednesday, leap-frogging Mexico to become one of the top 10 worst-affected countries globally, according to a Reuters tally.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella told reporters that some 50 coronavirus tests a day were being done and the initiative would continue indefinitely.
Those who test negative get a certificate to enter a shelter and those who test positive are directed to further treatment.
Many of Italy’s homeless are foreigners who do not have a family doctor with the national health system and Italians who become homeless, because of economic difficulties, often are too embarrassed to return to their family doctors.
The pope established the World Day of the Poor four years ago to bring attention to the needy, particularly in developed countries. It is being marked this Sunday.
In past years, he has held Mass for thousands of poor people in St. Peter’s Basilica and then treated 1,500 homeless people to lunch in a Vatican auditorium.
In recent years, the pope has held Mass for thousands of poor people in St. Peter’s Basilica and treated 1,500 homeless people to lunch in a Vatican auditorium for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor (pictured in 2019)
But because of coronavirus restrictions, only 100 poor people will be able to attend Mass at the basilica this year (pictured in 2019 on the 3rd World Day of the Poor). While the lunch has been cancelled, around 5,000 food parcels will be delivered to poor families
Because of coronavirus restrictions, only 100 poor people will attend Mass in the vast basilica.
The lunch has been cancelled but about 5,000 food parcels will be delivered to poor families, including 2.5 tons of pasta donated by an Italian food company.
At the start of the month, the pope halted his public general audiences because of the rising cases of coronavirus in Italy.
Pictured: A view of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Tuesday, November 10, 2020. The swabs are being offered at a clinic off St. Peter’s Square that the pope set up several years ago to provide basic medical care to destitute people
The Vatican said it would preform 50 tests a day and that the initiative would run indefinitely. Pictured: A man wearing robes receives a coronavirus test from healthcare workers in Rome
Instead, he resumed live-streaming his weekly catechism lessons from his library in the Apostolic Palace, as he did during the Covid-19 lockdown in the spring and summer.
Francis’s liturgical events over the next few weeks and months — including Christmas — will be attended by limited numbers of faithful although a spokesman said plans could change as the health situation evolves.
The Vatican City State has not been spared from the virus, with 13 Swiss Guards testing positive in October.
All told, the Holy See’s official caseload stands at 27, according to the Johns Hopkins University running tally.
Aged 83 and with part of his lung removed after an illness in his youth, Francis is at high risk for complications if he were to become infected himself, with the Vatican taking precautions to ensure he is kept safe.
Thursday saw a record number of new cases record in a single 24-hour period – 35,098 – much higher than the peak during the first wave in the spring. While this is largely down to more tests being done that during the first wave, yesterday saw Italy record 623 new related deaths, the highest number in a single day since April
As of November 11, Italy has seen 1,028,424 cases of Covid-19, resulting in 42,953 deaths from the virus. Thursday saw a record number of new cases record in a single 24-hour period – 35,098 – much higher than the peak during the first wave in the spring.
However, the higher number of recorded cases is in part down to more tests being done on the population.
Yesterday saw Italy record 623 new related deaths, the highest number in a single day since April.
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