VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Swiss Guard reported an additional seven men have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the current number of cases among the 113 guardsmen to 11.
Those testing positive were immediately put into isolation and “appropriate further checks” were being carried out, said a statement on the papal Swiss Guard website Oct. 15.
In the meantime, it said, “more useful measures have been adopted, including in terms of planning the guards’ service to rule out any risks of infection in places where the Pontifical Swiss Guard lend their service,” in addition to those protocols already in place from the governing office of Vatican City State.
The Vatican press office had announced Oct. 12 that four members of the Swiss Guard and three other residents of Vatican City State had recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said in a note Oct. 12 that “over the course of the weekend, some COVID-19 positive cases have been identified among the Swiss Guard.”
He had said that those four guardsmen were showing symptoms and had been placed in isolation. The Vatican also was tracing people with whom the four had been in contact, he added.
In addition to the guards, three other people had been found to be positive “with mild symptoms” over the “last few weeks” among either residents or citizens of Vatican City State, Bruni said.
They, too, were in isolation in their homes and contact tracing had been carried out, he added.
“In the meantime, as per the provisions issued last week by the governing office of Vatican City State, all the guards, those on duty and not, are wearing masks, outside and inside, and are following the required health measures,” he said.
The Vatican had declared an outdoor mask mandate after Italy did so nationwide Oct. 7. However, at his weekly general audience, which was held indoors Oct. 7, Pope Francis and many in his entourage, including the two Swiss Guards in uniform, did not wear masks at that event.
The Italian government extended its state of emergency until January 2021 and has been gradually increasing restrictions on gatherings and enacting other preventative measures as infections continue to rise.
Italy has been registering thousands of new infections per day, with nearly 6,000 new cases registered on Oct. 10. The month has seen the highest increase in new cases since the pandemic’s peak in April.