Pope Francis has tested negative for coronavirus after he was forced to cancel a series of engagements last week due to illness.
The 83-year-old pontiff was given a ‘routine’ test after falling ill on Ash Wednesday with classic symptoms of a cold including a cough, fever, chills and sore throat.
He was given a swab test as a precaution but the results have come back negative, according to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.
Francis’s last full day of public engagements was on Ash Wednesday, when he appeared ill while taking part in an evening Mass.
He was seen coughing, sneezing and appeared tired during the ceremony, before cancelling an engagement the following morning.
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.
During the blessing, he announced he would not be participating in a yearly spiritual retreat for Lent that was due to start this week.
Instead, he said he would be following it from his residence in a Vatican guest house.
He has been taken ill at a time when Italy is battling a surging outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus.
The death toll in Italy jumped to 52 on Monday from 34 the day before and the total number of confirmed cases in Europe’s worst affected country climbed past the 2,000 mark.