Claim: The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis and two aides tested positive for coronavirus.
The article that made the claim was posted on a website called MCM News on Saturday, February 29. It pointed out how Pope Francis missed a planned mass in Rome after showing “coronavirus-like” symptoms and added that the pope and his aides were quarantined and were receiving medical attention near Santa Marta, where the pontiff resides.
According to the social monitoring tool Crowdtangle, the article was shared on Facebook 123 times and acquired 6,881 interactions.
The claim was flagged by Facebook Claim Check, a tool that monitors posts with potentially false information.
The facts: The Vatican denied allegations that Pope Francis contracted the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
On Sunday, March 1, a Vatican spokesman told Agence France-Presse that there was “no evidence to suggest a diagnosis of anything other than a slight ailment.”
MCM News tagged the article with the false claim under its Showbiz section. No legitimate news sites reported this claim.
The 83-year old pope was seen blowing his nose and coughing during Ash Wednesday service. As early as Thursday, February 27, chief press officer Matteo Bruni said Pope Francis was suffering from a “mild ailment.”
Apart from canceling a scheduled mass appearance, the pontiff postponed official appointments on Friday, February 28 due to the said mild ailment. The Vatican made no reference to COVID-19 in its announcement.
Further, Bruni told journalists that meetings at Casa Santa Marta will still continue regularly, according to an announcement by the Vatican News. Bruni explained that the Pope preferred to stay inside Santa Marta due to his “slight indisposition,” but all of his other commitments will continue.
In Italy, the number of coronavirus cases exceeded 1,000 as of Sunday, with 105 people receiving intensive care hospital treatment as of Saturday. – Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com