Two close aides of Pope Francis test positive for COVID-19, Vatican says

VATICAN CITY, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The second and third ranking Vatican officials under Pope Francis have tested positive for COVID-19, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who is secretary of state, had slight symptoms, and the deputy secretary of state, Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, had no symptoms, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

He said both Parolin, 67, an Italian, and Pena Parra, 61, who is Venezuelan, had self-isolated in their residences in the Vatican.

The two meet with the pope regularly but it was not clear when their last meetings with the 85-year-old pontiff took place.

The Vatican has required its employees, most of whom live in Italy, to be fully vaccinated.

Italy, which surrounds the tiny and sovereign Vatican City, reported 83,403 COVID-19 related cases on Monday, against 149,512 the day before, while the number of deaths rose to 287 from 248.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel

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