Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman March 5, 2020

Blog falsely claims Pope Francis tested positive in a second coronavirus test

If Your Time is short

  • An Italian newspaper reported that Pope Francis tested negative for the coronavirus. 

  • The Vatican hasn’t confirmed or denied the report.

  • There is no evidence the pope was given a second test, or that he tested positive.

A refurbished rumor that Pope Francis has contracted the coronavirus as he battles a cold is going around the Internet.

We recently fact-checked a video that claimed the pope and two of his aides tested positive for the coronavirus and that it was confirmed by the Vatican. None of that is true, and the Vatican denied the claims.

Now, one blog is pushing an altered version of the account, quoting an Italian newspaper as saying that the 83-year-old Catholic leader first tested negative for the virus before a second test came back positive.

The story features recent photos of Pope Francis coughing and blowing his nose and claims: 

"Pope Francis has tested positive for coronavirus after he fell ill in Italy and was forced to cancel a religious retreat near Rome … The first results for Covid-19 came back negative, and second came positive, according to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero this morning."

This account is also false.

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The story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Pope Francis recently canceled some engagements and a Lent retreat after he was seen coughing and sneezing during an Ash Wednesday mass in Rome, fueling false rumors that he has the coronavirus.

On March 3, Il Messaggero reported that the pope had been tested for the virus as a precaution and that the result was negative –– something the Vatican has not officially confirmed –– but the story doesn’t say a second test was administered or that the pope tested positive. 

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni didn’t confirm or deny the Messaggero report, according to the Associated Press, but repeated that the pope had been diagnosed with a cold and that it was "running its course, without symptoms linked to other pathologies." Bruni told Reuters he had no comment on the report.

The pope may have tested negative for the virus, but there is no evidence that he was tested more than once, or that a second result came back positive.

We rate this False.

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Blog falsely claims Pope Francis tested positive in a second coronavirus test

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