Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and president of Caritas Internationalis, has tested positive for Covid-19, the Vatican confirmed.
In a statement last night, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the result was discovered after Cardinal Tagle, 63, was administered a swab test upon his arrival in Manila on Thursday.
“His Eminence does not exhibit any symptoms and will remain in self-isolation in the Philippines, where he is located,” Bruni said.
He also confirmed that Cardinal Tagle had previously tested negative for the coronavirus after he had undergone a swab in Rome on September 7. The cardinal last met privately with Pope Francis at the end of August.
Bruni also said the Vatican is verifying the condition of those who were in contact with the cardinal in recent days.
As of yesterday, there were nearly 253,000 coronavirus cases in the Philippines and an estimated 4,108 have died, according to Worldometer, a statistical site monitoring the pandemic.
The news of a Vatican official testing positive for the coronavirus comes at a time when the Vatican is slowly opening its doors to the public. The pope held his first public general audience last week, six months after lockdown measures were enforced to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, the Congregation for Catholic Education called for an alliance between Catholic and non-Catholic educational institutions in order to confront the challenges stemming from or exacerbated by the pandemic.
In a letter in L'Osservatore Romano, the congregation said the pandemic has emphasised the need for an increasingly communal and shared educational pact that, drawing strength from the Gospel and the teachings of the church, will contribute a generous and open synergy to spread an authentic culture of encounter.
The letter was signed by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and Archbishop Angelo Zani, the congregation's secretary.
As many schools and universities begin a new academic year, many continue to rely on remote learning to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among faculty and students.
In its letter, the congregation said that although digital platforms have allowed for education to continue, they also have brought to light “a marked disparity in educational and technological opportunities”.
According to recent data, about 10 million children will not be able to access education in the coming years, increasing the already existing educational gap, the congregation said.
While remote learning is necessary in this extremely critical moment, it has underscored the importance of in-person learning and interactions with students and teachers, which is “indispensable for the formation of the person and for a critical understanding of reality”.