Coronavirus: Italy’s former PM Silvio Berlusconi in hospital with COVID-19, pneumonia

A photograph of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in January. (File photo: Reuters)

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, who has COVID-19 and a history of heart and other medical problems, was admitted early Friday to a Milan hospital, where tests found that he has the “beginnings” of pneumonia, state radio said.

Earlier, one of his top aides, Sen. Lucia Ronzulli told RAI state TV that the 83-year-old media mogul, who tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the week, was undergoing “precautionary monitoring” of his infection.

“He passed the night well,'' Ronzulli said.

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A CT scan done at San Raffaele hospital found the “beginnings of pneumonia in both lungs,” the late-morning radio report said.

Berlusconi was reported to be staying in isolation in a 6th floor section of the hospital set aside for VIPs. He has been there several times before for previous medical problems.

Sky TG24, reporting from outside the hospital, said Berlusconi had been given an oxygen mask at the hospital to aid breathing.

Italian media have stressed Berlusconi isn’t in intensive care.

Sky also said he arrived by private car and walked into the hospital.

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Berlusconi says he has no pain

On Thursday, Berlusconi, speaking in a strong but somewhat nasal voice from his estate on the outskirts of Milan, told his supporters he no longer had fever or pain.

Italian media have said two of his adult children were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as his girlfriend, who is a 30-year-old former staff member of the soccer team Berlusconi used to own.

“Unfortunately this isn't a cold,'' La Stampa newspaper said he told the daily on Thursday. “Now it touches me — but not only me, but also my family — I realize more than ever how grave” the pandemic is.

“I'm aware of how much sorrow it has sowed in so many families, of how much pain it has caused so many people. I think of all those who aren't here any more, I think of those who lost their loved ones,'' the Turin daily quoted Berlusconi as saying.

He was further quoted as saying that earlier in the week, beside fever, he had muscle and bone pain, “but it passed.”

COVID-19 can be worrisome in people with other medical conditions, and Berlusconi has a history of serious medical problems. In 1997, he successfully battled prostate cancer, including by surgery. In 2006, he had heart tests at San Raffaele after fainting during a speech. A few weeks later he was fitted with a pacemaker at a US hospital.

He also has had bowel surgery for an obstruction and suffered an inflammatory eye condition in the past.

Infections linked to holiday in Sardinia

Berlusconi spent some of his summer vacation at his seaside villa on Sardinia's Emerald Coast. Many of Italy's recent cases of COVID-19 have been linked to clusters in people who vacationed on Sardinia.

According to Italian media, at the urging of family members, he spent a few weeks at another one of his villas, in France, early in Italy's COVID-19 outbreak, which was particularly devastating in Lombardy, where Berlusconi's home and business empire is based.

On Thursday, the three-time former premier vowed to keep campaigning in upcoming regional elections in Italy for the center-right party, Forza Italia, that he created more than 25 years ago. The party has steadily lost popularity with voters in recent years as Berlusconi battled legal problems linked to his media business and his famed ‘’bunga bunga parties.”

After being convicted of tax fraud in 2013, he had to surrender his Senate seat. He is currently a lawmaker in the European Parliament.

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Last Update: Friday, 04 September 2020 KSA 13:17 - GMT 10:17
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