Vatican readies contingency plan against coronavirus in busy papal residence

first_imgThe Vatican is conducting tests for coronavirus on the dozens of priests who live in the same residence as Pope Francis and making contingency plans to move those diagnosed with the disease elsewhere, a source in the Holy See said on Thursday.The moves come several days after a priest who lives in the Santa Marta residence and works in the Secretariat of State tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized in Italy.The Vatican source was one of several officials who expressed concern about a possible flare-up in the residence where the pope has lived since his election in 2013. There are currently about 50 permanent residents in Santa Marta, which is run like a hotel and stopped accepting bookings for temporary visitors earlier this month.About half of the residents were tested on Wednesday and the other half were being tested on Thursday, a source said, adding that the plan is to move those who test positive to a Church-run hotel for pilgrims in Rome. Senior Vatican officials who live elsewhere inside the city-state are also being tested, another said.The concern is that priests go between Santa Marta, their jobs in Vatican departments, and sometimes go into Rome.”I consider it a potentially serious public health issue,” said one official.Until recently, Francis took his meals in the common dining room but he has recently been eating in his suite, one official said.Francis is 83 and part of one of his lungs was removed following an illness when he was a young man.One source who enters the residence regularly said precautions have been taken such as encouraging social distancing and making hand sanitizers available.Since March 6, the Vatican has issued at least five notices or decrees that mirror steps taken in Italy, the hardest hit country in Europe, with more than 8,000 deaths as of Thursday.They include recommendations to communicate by phone even with people in the same office, alternating shifts and encouraging as much work from home as possible.But most Vatican offices are still open, albeit with a skeleton staff, and some say they should be closed.”The Church will continue without the Roman Curia working for a few weeks,” one official said, using the name for the Vatican’s central administration.”This policy to keep all the offices open is worrying. My department can be closed for months without any damage,” another said.Francis has cancelled public appearances and is conducting his general audiences via television and the internet. But he still receives about five Vatican officials a day, according to his official calendar.  The modern residence, which has 130 rooms and suites and a staff of about 30 people, is also home to dozens of priests who continue to work in key Vatican departments.While the Vatican has enacted procedures to stem the spread of coronavirus inside the city-state, some officials say they may not be sufficient and think a total shutdown may be needed.”Santa Marta may be a bomb waiting to explode,” said one of the officials, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter.Francis has tested negative for coronavirus two times in recent weeks, according to Italian media reports. The Vatican has not commented on those reports.center_img Topics :last_img read more

RSG hosts Awareness Week

first_imgThe Residential Student Government will be hosting a wide array of events this week as part of Awareness Week 2014. The program is designed to improve residential life for all students and will take place in each of the residential areas around campus.The programs will be hosted at the North Area, South Area, West Area and Parkside Area and will focus on diversity, safety, health and wellness and stress relief.Each day will focus on promoting one of the values of Awareness Week. Monday’s events highlighted diversity and took place in the North Area Courtyard and the Birnkrant Multipurpose Room. Students participated in salsa and zumba classes and ate ethnic cuisine including Korean, Italian and Mexican food.There was also information about the Los Angeles Metro to encourage students to go out and explore the city. Taryn Maister, programming chair for North Residential College, emphasized how important it is for students to get off campus and see Los Angeles.“I don’t think students realize how diverse Los Angeles is,” Maister said. “We got restaurants from around L.A. to give us ethnic food for Awareness Week to show students that they don’t only have to stay on campus to get good food. They should go out and explore the city.”Safety will be the main focus of Tuesday’s events, which will take place on the South Area Lawn. Self-defense, bike safety and CPR classes will be offered to students and In-N-Out burgers will be served to those who participate.Jack Huebner, a freshman majoring in cognitive science, hopes to work on the EMT Team at sporting events on campus next year and is utilizing Awareness Week to learn CPR.“I’m excited for Tuesday, which will definitely help me prep for applying to work on the emergency response team at sporting events next year,” Huebner said.Wednesday’s events move       off-campus to Cardinal Gardens where health and wellness will be the topic of interest. A basketball tournament is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and healthy smoothies, burgers and granola will be offered to fuel the players.Friday will round up Awareness Week with events at Parkside geared towards helping students with stress relief. Puppies will be available for students to pet to relieve the anxiety of midterm season.Tina Tzeng, vice president of programming for RSG, emphasized that the organization wants to focus on more than just the social aspect of dorm life.“During fall semester, RSG holds a highlighter dance and ‘Save Tommy Night,’” Tzeng said. “Now in spring semester, we wanted to move away from just social life and move towards areas that we can highlight and improve in residential life as well.”Tzeng hopes that Awareness Week will serve as a bonding experience for those in student housing.“At RSG, we want to make dorms more than just a place to live, we want to make them a home,” Tzeng said. “Awareness Week gives everyone a break from studying and a chance to come and have some fun. If everyone has a smile on their face, the event was a success.”last_img read more