Four members of the Swiss Guards, the pope’s colourfully-dressed personal protection force, have tested positive for coronavirus.
Despite the positive test results, Pope Francis was seen today carrying out duties, including meeting with Cardinal George Pell, without wearing a mask.
All four are showing symptoms and are currently in quarantine, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement on Monday.
They are understood to be the first of the Swiss Guards to have tested positive for the virus and are experiencing mild symptoms, according to the Vatican.
Four of the Pope’s Swiss Guard have tested positive for Covid-19. Above, Vatican Swiss Guards stand attention at the St. Damaso courtyard on October 4 (File image)
‘In the meantime…. all the guards, either in service or not, will wear masks inside and outside in observation of proscribed health measures,’ the spokesman said.
Pope Francis, who at age 83 is particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, is constantly monitored for the virus.
A recruit of the Vatican’s elite Swiss Guard raises three fingers, the sign of the trinity, at the swearing in ceremony for new members at the Cortile di San Damaso, on October 4 (File image)
Aside from the guards, just three people who reside in Vatican City have caught Covid-19.
Last week, the Vatican introduced new coronavirus restrictions including wearing masks, even outdoors, and practicing social distancing.
The Swiss Guards, an army created in 1506 by Pope Julius II for his protection, currently number over 100.
They are a popular tourist magnet at the Vatican, with their showy yellow, red and blue uniforms, halberds – an axe-like weapon – and metal helmets with ostrich plumage.
According to long tradition, Swiss Guards must all be between 19 and 30 years old and at least 1.74 metres tall. They must be practising Roman Catholic, Swiss, and unmarried.
Today’s Swiss Guards are said to enjoy a more personal and informal relationship with the current pontiff, Pope Francis, who is seen as being less attached to strict papal protocol than his predecessors