Coronavirus outbreak discovered at Rome pontifical university

Salesian Father Mauro Mantovani, rector of Rome's Pontifical Salesian University, is pictured in an undated photo. In an April 25, 2020, interview, Father Mantovani said at least 19 people at the university tested positive for the COVID-19 and six have been hospitalized for their symptoms. (CNS photo/courtesy Pontifical Salesian University)

ROME (CNS) -- At least 19 people at a Rome pontifical university tested positive for the coronavirus and six have been hospitalized for their symptoms, the rector said.

After one resident at the Pontifical Salesian University began having symptoms related to COVID-19, local health authorities were alerted and they began to test all residents, the rector, Salesian Father Mauro Mantovani told the newspaper Il Messaggero April 25.

The university, which has been conducting classes online since March 5, houses some 280 members of six religious orders.

The 19 people who tested positive were put in isolation, he told, a news outlet for the Diocese of Rome April 27.

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The entire university has been isolated as a "red zone," with only authorized personnel allowed to leave or enter. Tests on all residents were expected to be finished by April 28.

"We are also sorry for the worry we have caused here in the area, in this neighborhood in Rome, where we have been present and where the community has appreciated us and loves us," he told Il Messaggero.

At first, they thought they only had one isolated case of coronavirus, he said; instead, testing showed the problem was much more extensive and the university wanted to inform the wider community about the unfolding situation, he said.

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"We are facing this with the spirit" of their founder, St. John Bosco, "as good Christians and honest citizens," he told the Catholic newspaper, Avvenire.

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