Pontifical Academy of Life assembly attendee tested positive for coronavirus

Vatican City, Mar 10, 2020 / 03:19 pm (CNA).- The Pontifical Academy of Life said Tuesday that only one attendee of a Vatican conference held in Rome ten days ago has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We confirm that this is a single registered case, and is on the way to recovery,” the Pontifical Academy of Life stated March 10.

More than 1,200 people from 41 different countries were registered to take part in the final public event of the Vatican workshop on ethics and artificial intelligence, according to the academy.

Microsoft President Brad Smith and IBM Executive Vice-president John Kelly III signed a document Feb. 28 at that event called “RenAIssance – For a Humanistic Artificial Intelligence” in the auditorium on Via della Conciliazione, down the street from the Vatican.

The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and other United Nations and  Italian government representatives were also present.

Pope Francis was scheduled to meet with a delegation of participants from the Pontifical Academy of Life workshop at the Apostolic Palace Feb. 28, but canceled the meeting due to a cold.

The conference attendee tested positive for COVID-19 March 5 during a pre-employment medical examination in Vatican City State’s Health and Hygiene clinic.

The Pontifical Academy of Life sent an email March 6 informing participants that a person who attended all three days of the Feb. 26-28 assembly had a confirmed case of the virus. A Vatican journalist who was accredited to cover the conference said they did not receive this email.

One part of the assembly was dedicated to private meetings of the academics of the Pontifical Academy for Life with 147 people attending. The second was a workshop on AI and ethics that drew 356 participants.

The average incubation period for the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory illness is 5.1 days, according to a study published March 9 by researchers at John Hopkins’ school of public health, who determined that 97.5% of people develop coronavirus symptoms within 11.5 days of exposure to the virus.

The Pontifical Academy of Life did not say in its statement whether it advised conference participants to place themselves under self-quarantine following the positive diagnosis. The Holy See Press Office put out a statement March 8 indicating that five people who had close contact with the person diagnosed with Covid-19 in the Vatican had been placed under precautionary quarantine.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a nationwide quarantine March 9. The quarantine, which went into effect March 10, restricts movement around the country and between regions. Restaurants and bars must close at 6pm and gathering in groups is forbidden.

People are encouraged to stay home, but may move around the city for work, to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, or for medical care. In public, people are asked to keep one meter of distance from each other. On March 10 Italian police closed St. Peter’s Square to tourists until April 3.

More than 10,000 people have contracted Covid-19 in Italy. The Italian Ministry of Health announced that 8,514 people are ill, with 877 being treated in intensive care. There have been 631 deaths in the country due to coronavirus.

In Rome’s Lazio region, there have been a total of 116 documented Covid-19 cases as of March 10.

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