Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Picture: REUTERS
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Picture: REUTERS

Rome — Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, in hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus, has been diagnosed with the early stages of double pneumonia, ANSA news agency reported on Friday.

Double, or bilateral, pneumonia affects both lungs and can make breathing difficult. The condition has been seen in many cases of patients hospitalised with Covid-19.

Berlusconi was taken to Milan’s San Raffaele hospital on Thursday evening, two days after his Forza Italia party announced he had the coronavirus.

“After the appearance of some symptoms, Berlusconi was admitted to hospital as a precautionary measure,” Forza Italia said in a brief statement, adding that his condition is “not a cause for concern”.

Sky Italia television said he was not in intensive care, but had breathing difficulties.

Berlusconi underwent major heart surgery four years ago and halted all public appearances when the pandemic hit Italy in February, spending the initial two-month lockdown in a villa owned by one of his daughters in the south of France.

He took a coronavirus test after spending part of August at his villa on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, which has seen a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases during the bustling summer tourism season.

Italian newspapers have speculated that Berlusconi might have been infected by two of his younger children — Barbara and Luigi — who were with him in Sardinia and were also seen partying on other holiday islands last month. Both have since tested positive for coronavirus.

Berlusconi’s partner, Marta Fascina, has also caught the virus, a party official said.

When his party announced his illness on Wednesday, it said he did not have any symptoms. Berlusconi subsequently spoke via video link to a meeting of supporters on Thursday afternoon and acknowledged he had had a fever, but that it had passed.

“I no longer have fever, nor pain, I want to reassure everyone that I am quite well,” he said.

Italy, hit by one of Europe’s worst outbreaks of Covid-19 with morethan 270,000 confirmed cases and 35,500 deaths, contained the contagion after a peak in fatalities and infections in March and April. But the number of new cases rose in August, with experts blaming gatherings associated with holidays and night life. 


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