(Source: CD/Vatican News)

There are two new positive cases of coronavirus in the Vatican. The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, confirmed this in a statement released on Saturday afternoon, referring to the results of analysis undertaken by the health department.

Bruni stated that in the past few days the Health and Hygiene Department had been conducting tests “in compliance with the directives on the coronavirus emergency”.

Among the samples taken, one of them turned up positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The person in question is an “official of the Secretariat of State” as well as a “resident in Santa Marta”.

Since he had already manifested symptoms, he was already in isolation.

“At the moment, his health condition is not particularly critical”, Bruni continued, “but as a precautionary measure, the person has been admitted to a Roman hospital and is under observation”.

The Vatican’s Health and Hygiene department is in close contact with the hospital.

As soon as this positive case of the virus came to light, Bruni said that “measures were taken according to the health protocols provided, both with regard to the sanitation of the environment, the place of work and residence of the person concerned”.

Authorities have also tried to “reconstruct the contact he had with others in the days preceding the test results”. These people have also been tested.

The results of those tested have “confirmed the absence of other positive cases among those residing in the Casa Santa Marta”, as well as among the official’s colleagues.

In addition, to be on the safe side, “appropriate sanitation measures were adopted”.

A further 170 Holy See employees and residents of the Casa Santa Marta underwent testing. “The results on these latest tests were all negative”, Bruni’s statement reads.

The new total of those affected by coronavirus among employees of the Holy See and citizens of Vatican City State now stands at 6.

“I can confirm”, Bruni’s statement concludes, “that neither the Holy Father, nor his closest collaborators, are involved”.

From the statement of the Director of the Press Office, it is clear why the Holy See waited until all the test results were in, prior to providing this information, so as to be able to state, on the basis of these results and the measures taken, that both the Casa Santa Marta residence and the offices of the Secretariat of State are safe.

Analysis: “I’m not moving from Santa Marta”

“I’m not moving from Santa Marta”, the Pope reportedly said to his collaborators upon hearing the news of the sixth positive test for coronavirus in the Vatican.

It’s a significant gesture. The only alternatives, perhaps, to the Casa Santa Marta hotel where the Pope has been living since assuming office in 2013? The traditional papal apartments, or the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

But for a Pope determined to be as down to earth as possible and to communicate not only with words but also with gestures – last night’s extraordinarily moving Urbi et orbi blessing against the virus for one – moving out of the eye of the hurricane would be unthinkable.

While reports suggest that Francis has stopped taking his meals with his collaborators in Santa Marta’s ground-floor common dining area – instead preferring to have his meals brought up to him in his second-floor apartment – he is continuing to receive official visits and, as he himself put it, to “work as normal”.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.