Pope Francis warned of coronavirus exposure
The Vatican’s ambassador to Australia, Bishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, has tested positive to coronavirus in Canberra less than 14 days after a private, face-to-face meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The meeting, at the Pope’s request, took place within the two-week infectious period for COVID-19 and the Australian government has warned the Holy See of the infection.
The ACT Health Office announced on Thursday that Canberra had recorded its first active COVID-19 case in months but said the infection of a diplomat in his 70s who had returned from overseas was an “acquired infection”, detected while he was in quarantine.
The ACT Health Office also said the diplomat had travelled from Sydney, after his arrival from overseas on October 9, in a private vehicle and had not made any stops “en route to Canberra”.
He tested positive on Monday, his 10th day of quarantine after his arrival in Sydney.
The Australian government notified the Australian ambassador to the Holy See in Rome of the infection after the “incident room” — which includes health and foreign affairs officials — acted according to the international protocol.
ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said Canberra health authorities were working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and federal health authorities.
The ACT Health Department refused to release the name of the virus victim but a spokesman said ACT Health “has been engaging with the Australian Department of Health and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as per our usual protocols”.
Bishop Yllana travelled to Poland last month to induct the Bishop for Port Pirie in South Australia, Polish-born Australian Karol Kulczcki, who could not leave Poland because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Bishop Yllana was called to Rome after the September 29 induction to see the Pope in relation to allegations about mystery transfers of money from the Vatican secretariat to Australia, allegedly to adversely affect the child sex abuse trial of Cardinal George Pell.
The Vatican listed a personal meeting between Bishop Yllana and Pope Francis at the Vatican on October 6.
Bishop Yllana returned to Australia three days later.
The Vatican embassy in Canberra was closed on Thursday afternoon and did not respond to emails, personal approaches or calls from The Australian.
The Australian revealed on Thursday that anti-corruption authorities in Victoria will look into money wired from the Vatican to Australia, allegedly connected to Cardinal Pell’s trial, after receiving information from the Australian Federal Police.
The Australian also revealed that Vatican prosecutors investigating unauthorised financial transfers were given details of more than $2m wired to Australia between February 2017 and June 2018, almost double the $1.1m reported by Italian newspapers and London’s The Times.
AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency that investigates money laundering and organised crime, confirmed this week it had passed information to the AFP and Victoria Police for further investigation.
First published in The Australian, www.theaustralian.com.au