Seven more Swiss Guards test positive for Covid-19 at the Vatican, bringing total to 11

In this Sept. 2, 2020 file photo, a Vatican Swiss Guard wears a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the San Damaso courtyard ahead of Pope Francis' general audience, the first with faithful since February when the coronavirus outbreak broke out, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, file)

VATICAN CITY — Seven more Swiss Guards have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing to 11 confirmed cases within the small army that protects Pope Francis. The Vatican announced four cases among the Swiss Guards on Monday.

The Swiss Guards say there is more testing within the 135-member corps, with a reshuffling of schedules to “avoid all risks of contagion.” America’s Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell stated that the four guards who were originally infected were being quarantined.

The Swiss Guards, the world’s oldest standing army, provide ceremonial duty during papal Masses and stand at the Vatican gates. At least one guard is stationed outside the door of Pope Francis’ suite in the Santa Marta guesthouse at all times.

Seven more Swiss Guards have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing to 11 confirmed cases within the small army that protects Pope Francis.

The 83-year-old pope, who had part of a lung removed in his 20s due to illness, would be at high risk for COVID-19 complications. He’s been reluctant to wear a face mask and appeared without one Wednesday, even though many of his entourage and all the Swiss Guards wore a mask.

Masks are required outdoors and in situations in which social distancing is impossible in Vatican City. While Francis was seen donning a mask a few weeks ago, the Vatican hasn’t responded to questions about why he isn’t wearing one.

Francis often seems out of breath and speaks in a whisper, suggesting that wearing a mask might be particularly uncomfortable.

[Explainer: Why isn’t Pope Francis wearing a mask?]

This article has been updated with reporting from Colleen Dulle.

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