Pope Francis tests negative for coronavirus: Italy report

Pope Francis has been taken ill at a time when Italy is battling a surging outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus. (AFP)
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Updated 03 March 2020

Pope Francis tests negative for coronavirus: Italy report

  • Pope Francis has been taken ill at a time when Italy is battling a surging outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis, who canceled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy because he is suffering from a cold, has tested negative for coronavirus, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported on Tuesday.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had no immediate comment on the report. The 83-year-old Roman Catholic leader, who had part of one lung removed because of an illness decades ago, also canceled most audiences last week.
Francis was to have taken part in the week-long retreat with senior Vatican officials that began on Sunday night at a Church residence south of Rome.
But in a surprise announcement hours earlier, he said he would be following it from his residence in a Vatican guest house.
He has been taken ill at a time when Italy is battling a surging outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus.
The death toll in Italy jumped to 52 on Monday from 34 the day before and the total number of confirmed cases in Europe’s worst affected country climbed past the 2,000 mark.


Pakistani baby born in Makkah reaches home, meets parents after yearlong wait

Updated 16 January 2021

Pakistani baby born in Makkah reaches home, meets parents after yearlong wait

  • Abdullah was born prematurely Jan. 9 last year to Pakistani Umrah pilgrims
  • Parents say medical treatment was paid for entirely by Saudi government

ISLAMABAD: A baby born prematurely to Pakistani Umrah pilgrims in Makkah last year was returned on Friday evening to his parents in Quetta, Pakistan — a full year after his birth and successful treatment in Saudi Arabia.

Bibi Hajra and her husband Ghulam Haider were forced to leave their baby behind after their Umrah visas expired following the birth of their son on Jan. 9 last year — a premature birth, with the baby weighing only 1 kg and suffering from severe medical complications at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Makkah.

The baby, named Abdullah, was placed on a ventilator and stayed on in the hospital for a period of 46 days under the observation of doctors and consultants specialized in neonatal intensive care.

After this, the child was transferred to special care under the supervision of the Social Service Department.

“We had to return to Pakistan and leave our baby in the hospital as our visas expired, and then could not go back due to coronavirus,” a tearful Hajra told Arab News on Saturday from Pakistan’s southwestern Quetta city.

“Initially, I was very worried about my baby, but the hospital administration remained in touch with us. They used to show me Abdullah on video and also send us his pictures,” she said.

“We are thankful to the Saudi government, hospital authorities, doctors, nurses and Pakistani consulate in Jeddah for their cooperation,” she added.

On Thursday, the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Makkah handed Abdullah over to a delegation from the Pakistani Consulate after taking care of him for a full year.

Abdullah’s father, Haider, who is a dispenser at a small clinic in Quetta, also expressed his gratitude to the Saudi government and the Pakistani mission for their support.

“Our child remained under treatment for one year but we have not even been charged a single penny,” Haider told Arab News.

“All the expenses were taken care of by the Saudi government,” he said.

The return of Abdullah to Quetta, he continued, had been arranged by the Pakistani Consulate in Jeddah free of charge.

“The Pakistani Consulate was in contact with the hospital as well as with the parents of the child. They provided all the medical facilities and kept Abdullah in complete care. Now he is absolutely fine and one year old,” the community welfare attache of the Pakistani Consulate, Saqib Ali Khan, who received the boy from the hospital on Thursday, told Arab News.

“When the hospital administration assured us that the child is completely fine, we sent him back to Quetta through a delegation and he was received by the parents,” he said.

Khan thanked the Saudi government, the Saudi Ministry of Health and the medical team at the hospital for providing the child with special care, and for keeping in touch with the family in order to reassure them over the entire year of their separation.