ROME – Among the latest casualties of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Italy are five sisters belonging to a convent in the country’s northern Piedmont region, prompting the immediate isolation and quarantine of the remaining nuns.
Roughly 90 miles from Milan, Turin holds 10 of the more than 30 deaths in Piedmont, which neighbors Lombardy, the region most heavily impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. As of Wednesday evening, there were a total of 74,386 cases in Italy, with an increase of 3,491 since Tuesday.
Fatalities between Tuesday and Wednesday rose by 683, for a total of 7,503 dead since the outbreak began. However, the number of those cured is also rising, currently at 9,362, according to the Italian Ministry of Health.
Around two weeks ago roughly 32 of the 41 sisters in the motherhouse of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity in Turin began complaining of flu-like symptoms. Several sisters in the convent work at the city’s Mater Dei rest home, where some 10 people had tested positive for the coronavirus, around three of whom have died.
According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, it took several days before the sisters realized their symptoms could be compatible with COVID-19.
Once they called it in, the coordinator of Piedmont’s crisis unit, Mario Raviolo, arrived and set up two tents outside the convent where more than 40 people, including 41 sisters and several lay workers, were swabbed and tested. At the time, about 20 showed genuine symptoms of the coronavirus.
Those who were found positive were immediately taken to the hospital in a string of ambulances.
As of March 26, five sisters in the convent — aged between 82-98 — had died. Among the dead is the mother superior of the convent, who had been in charge since 2005. There are 13 nuns still hospitalized with the coronavirus.
On March 20 the community’s priest confessor, 81, was also reported to have died of COVID-19.
Remaining sisters who did not test positive have been moved to another building inside the city, where they will stay in quarantine. Convent workers have been sent to home isolation and are under observation.
This is just one of many mini outbreaks inside convents experienced in Italy. Last week, nearly 60 religious sisters in two convents outside of Rome tested positive and were sent into isolation.
Most of the sisters belong to the Daughters of San Camillo convent in Grottaferrata, which is on the outskirts of Rome, while the rest are from the Angelic Sisters of Saint Paul convent in Rome, which currently houses 21 sisters.
After news of the outbreak in the Rome convents broke, Polish Cardinal Konrad Krejewski, the pope’s almoner, visited the two convents, bringing the sisters milk and yogurt from the pontifical villa at Castel Gandolfo in order convey “the closeness and affection of the Holy Father.”
Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen
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