Two cardinals close to Pope Francis get coronavirus

The Polish cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who is in charge of the pope's charities, tested positive for Covid-19
Last Updated 22 December 2020, 11:45 IST

Two cardinals close to Pope Francis have contracted coronavirus, Vatican sources said Tuesday.

The Polish cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who is in charge of the pope's charities, "tested positive for Covid-19", Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

The 57-year-old, known as the pope's "Robin Hood" for his work with the poor and the homeless, had symptoms of pneumonia and is currently under surveillance in a hospital in Rome.

Officials are still seeking to identify his recent contacts, but he is known to meet with the pope regularly.

Italian cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, 78, the president of the governorate -- effectively the chief executive -- of the tiny state of Vatican City has also tested positive, a Vatican source told AFP.

The 84-year-old pope, known for his love of getting close to the faithful, has been reluctant to wear a mask despite the pandemic that has hit Italy particularly badly.

During a meeting with Vatican employees on Monday, the pontiff -- he and his entourage without masks -- could not resist having a cuddle with a baby.

The Argentine is considered particularly at risk of complications if he contracts coronavirus, both because of his age and his history of lung problems.

He almost died when he was 21 after developing pleurisy, and had part of one of his lungs removed, according to biographer Austen Ivereigh.

In a recent book, "Let Us Dream", the pope described how the experience gave him an insight into how coronavirus victims felt.

It was 1957, and he was in his second year of training for the priesthood in Buenos Aires, when he got taken to hospital fighting for his life.

"I have some sense of how people with coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators," the pontiff wrote.

(Published 22 December 2020, 11:45 IST)

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