Pope Francis, who suffers from a cold, tested negative for coronavirus, an Italian newspaper reported on Tuesday as Italy is facing the worst epidemic in Europe.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni did not reply to a request for comment on the article in the newspaper Il Messaggero.
For the first time this weekend, Francis postponed a Lent retreat in his papacy after axing all public meetings over the cold at the end of last week.
The new coronavirus has spread throughout much of the world from China, with Italy among the most affected with over 2,000 people infected and 52 deaths.
The 83-year-old pontiff was seen coughing and blowing his nose, but the Vatican – which also declared on a fact-finding and assistance mission on Tuesday that it was sending its top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico – quickly shot down rumors that the pope himself came down with COVID-19.
Medics didn’t say what else the Pope is suffering from but he mentioned it as ‘ a cold ‘
The Vatican City has yet to record its first case of coronavirus, but on Tuesday it was reported that a staff member was placed in quarantine for concerns they might have contracted the disease.
The staff had come into contact with a French priest who, as a precaution, has since been hospitalized in Paris and isolated.
He spoke in a slightly low voice at his general audience on Wednesday, and he coughed in a Rome church during an afternoon Ash Wednesday service. He quashed a visit to a basilica in Rome on Thursday.
The pope prefers to spend the mornings at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace speaking to groups and addressing heads of state.
He then disappeared from public view for the next four days while he recovered, before appearing at the window of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Sunday to address thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for a noon blessing.
He declared during the blessing that he would not engage in an annual spiritual retreat for Lent, scheduled to begin this week. Rather, he said he would execute it from his residence in a guest house in the Vatican.
He preferred not to stay in his luxurious papal apartments, unlike previous popes, and preferred for modest quarters in Santa Marta, where he spends the rest of the day focusing mostly on church matters.