Pope Francis was in hospital on Wednesday afternoon for a “previously scheduled check-up,” the Vatican said.
“The Holy Father has been at Gemelli (Hospital) since this afternoon for some previously scheduled checks,” Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said in a one-sentence statement.
In a later update, the Vatican said Pope Francis has “a respiratory infection that requires some days of appropriate medical therapy in hospital.”
This was shown by tests carried out on him this afternoon at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome.
The tests “excluded” that he has Covid 19, the Vatican press office said in a statement, sent by telegram to the Vatican accredited media, around 8.30pm on Wednesday evening.
It said, “Pope Francis complained of some respiratory difficulties in the past days and this afternoon went to the Gemelli Hospital for medical checks”, the results of which are reported above.
It said Pope Francis “was touched by the many messages received and expressed his gratitude for closeness and prayers [of people].”
In a tweet, Malta’s Archbishop Charles Scicluna said: “Our prayers for the Holy Father Pope Francis at this time. We wish him a speedy and full recovery.”
As is customary, the Holy Father presided over the Wednesday General Audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday morning.
However, according to media reports the Pontiff’s appointments for Thursday morning were cancelled.
Earlier on Wednesday, Pope Francis – who this month marked 10 years as head of the Catholic Church – appeared in good spirits at his weekly audience at the Vatican, smiling as he greeted the faithful from his “popemobile”.