Pope Francis is offering free COVID-19 tests for the homeless population of Rome. The gesture is in honor of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor activities.
The test swabs are available at a clinic off St. Peter’s Square, which was set up by the pope specifically to provide basic medical care to people that are less fortunate.
The initiative is set to continue indefinitely, currently administering around 50 COVID-19 tests per day, Reuters reported. Those who test negative get a certificate to enter a shelter, while those who test positive are being sent for treatment.
In previous, non-pandemic years, the pope celebrated World Day of the Poor by holding mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, and treating 1,500 people that are homeless to lunch in a Vatican auditorium. Due to COVID-19 restrictions this year, only 100 people will be allowed to attend the mass. The lunch has been canceled, but instead around 5,000 food parcels will be delivered to families and 350,000 masks will be given to students in Rome’s surrounding neighborhoods.
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