Pope Francis offers Rome's homeless free Covid-19 tests

Pope Francis is offering free coronavirus tests for Rome’s poor and homeless as part of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor activities, the Vatican said on Thursday cited by Reuters. The swabs are being offered at a clinic off St. Peter’s Square that the pope set up several years ago to provide basic medical care to destitute people.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella told reporters that some 50 coronavirus tests a day were being done and the initiative would continue indefinitely. Those who test negative get a certificate to enter a shelter and those who test positive are directed to further treatment.

Many of Italy’s homeless are foreigners who do not have a family doctor with the national health system and Italians who become homeless, because of economic difficulties, often are too embarrassed to return to their family doctors.

The pope established the World Day of the Poor four years ago to bring attention to the needy, particularly in developed countries. It is being marked this Sunday. In past years, he has held Mass for thousands of poor people in St. Peter’s Basilica and then treated 1,500 homeless people to lunch in a Vatican auditorium. Because of coronavirus restrictions, only 100 poor people will attend Mass in the vast basilica.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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