French priest hospitalized with coronavirus

Travellers at an airport in Chengdu China wear masks to prevent infection from coronavirus Jan 23 2019 Credit BZhou Shutterstock Travellers at an airport in Chengdu, China wear masks to prevent infection from coronavirus. | B.Zhou/Shutterstock.

A priest has been hospitalized in Paris after testing positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus Feb. 28.

Fr. Alexandre Comte, 43, had recently returned from Italy, where there are currently over 1,800 registered cases of the novel coronavirus.

Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris instructed priests Feb. 29 to refrain from distributing the Eucharist on the tongue, and to empty holy water fonts in their churches.

Fr. Comte is a resident of Rome. He drove from Rome to Paris Feb. 15.

The French embassy closed Rome's Church of St. Louis of the French Feb. 29, and placed the 24 resident priests in Rome under quarantine. The church located near Piazza Navona is the national church of France in Rome.

On March 2, the French Embassy to the Holy See announced that "any risk of possible contagion by the priest" had been ruled out by Rome's regional health system, and the precautionary measures that led to the quarantine of the French priests had been revoked.

The Church of St. Louis of the French, famous for its paintings of Caravaggio depicting the life of St. Matthew, will reopen to the public March 4.

The Louvre has remained closed after the French government banned indoor gatherings larger than 5,000 Feb. 29.

There have been 130 confirmed cases of coronavirus reported in France, and two deaths.

More than 2,000 people have contracted coronavirus in Italy, according to the Italian Ministry of Health, who reported 1,835 people are currently ill, mostly in the northern regions surrounding Milan, Bologna, and Venice. So far, 52 people with Covid-19 have died in Italy.

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