Italian clergyman in pope’s residence has virus

This photo taken and handout on March 23, 2020 by the Vatican Media shows Pope Francis celebrating a private morning mass broadcast from the Santa Marta chapel in the Vatican, during the COVID-19 new coronavirus pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Italian clergyman in pope’s residence has virus

  • Several Italian newspapers with reputable sources in the Vatican said the clergyman has lived for years in Saint Martha’s guest house
  • Pope Francis has remained largely secluded at his residence since coming down with a cold at the end of last month

ROME: An Italian employee of the Holy See who lives in the same residence as Pope Francis was reported Thursday to have tested positive for COVID-19 and been hospitalized.

Several Italian newspapers with reputable sources in the Vatican said the clergyman has lived for years in Saint Martha’s guest house.

Pope Francis has remained largely secluded at his residence since coming down with a cold at the end of last month.

The 83-year-old pontiff has a small apartment in the building and takes his meals there.

He also has private meetings there and occasionally moves to the Vatican library to record livestreamed messages to the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics.

The La Stampa and Il Messagro newspapers said the unnamed person has been hospitalized in Rome and steps have been taken to disinfect the building.

La Stampa additionally reported that Pope Francis has been “eating alone in his room for some time” as a precaution.

“He spends much of his time in his apartment, and when he moves inside the residence, he keeps the necessary safe distances,” La Stampa wrote.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told AFP he could neither confirm nor deny the reports.

The official Vatican News website said the number of people infected in the city state has risen to four.

This includes one person who first tested positive on March 6. “The new cases include an employee of the merchandise office and two employees of the Vatican Museums,” the official news site said.

The Argentine-born pontiff has enjoyed a life of good health despite losing part of a lung as a young man and suffered from sciatica — a nerve condition that causes pain in his hip.


Interpol warns of ‘alarming’ cybercrime rate during pandemic

Updated 35 min 30 sec ago

Interpol warns of ‘alarming’ cybercrime rate during pandemic

  • Cybercriminals are increasingly using disruptive malware against critical infrastructure and health care institutions
  • There was also an increase in the spread of fake news and misinformation which sometimes itself conceals malware

LYON: Global police body Interpol warned Monday of an “alarming” rate of cybercrime during the coronavirus pandemic, with criminals taking advantage of people working from home to target major institutions.
An assessment by the Lyon-based organization found a “significant target shift” by criminals from individuals and small businesses to major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure.
“Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19,” said Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock.
“The increased online dependency for people around the world is also creating new opportunities, with many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyberdefenses are up to date,” he added.
The report said cybercriminals were sending COVID-19 themed phishing emails — which seek to obtain confidential data from users — often impersonating government and health authorities.
Cybercriminals are increasingly using disruptive malware against critical infrastructure and health care institutions, it added.
In the first two weeks of April 2020, there was a rise in ramsomware attacks, in which users have to pay money to get their computer to work again.
There was also an increase in the spread of fake news and misinformation which sometimes itself conceals malware, said Interpol.
From January to April, some 907,000 spam messages, 737 incidents related to malware and 48,000 malicious URLs — all related to COVID-19 were detected by one of Interpol’s private sector partners, it said.
The agency warned the trend was set to continue and a “further increase in cybercrime is highly likely in the near future.”
“Vulnerabilities related to working from home and the potential for increased financial benefit will see cybercriminals continue to ramp up their activities and develop more advanced and sophisticated” methods, it said.
Once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, Interpol said, “it is highly probable that there will be another spike in phishing related to these medical products as well as network intrusion and cyberattacks to steal data.”