Publicado: 04/09/2020

Italy's Berlusconi hospitalised after contracting virus

Italy's Berlusconi hospitalised after contracting virus

Milan (AFP) -

Italy's flamboyant former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been hospitalised, his aides said Friday, days after the media tycoon became the latest high-profile figure to contract the coronavirus.

Berlusconi, 83, was taken to San Raffaele hospital in Milan on Thursday night after suffering 'certain symptoms', his entourage said in a statement.

But it said the move was just 'a precaution' and there was 'no cause for concern'.

The billionaire tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week after returning from a holiday at his luxury villa on Sardinia's jet-set Emerald Coast.

The AGI news agency said Berlusconi was hospitalised in a room that he often occupies when staying at the facility. AGI said this indicates that his condition is not serious, or he would be in intensive care.

Italian news reports said the ageing politician showed signs of the onset of pneumonia. His entourage said an official statement on his health would be made after 1400 GMT, and urged against the spread of 'alarmist or inaccurate' information.

Licia Ronzulli, a senator with Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, said the former prime minister 'spent the night in hospital to check on his condition... but he is fine.'

Berlusconi announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was in quarantine at home.

Two of his children - daughter Barbara, 36, and son Luigi, 31 - have also contracted the virus, as has his companion Marta Fascina.

Berlusconi, who once owned AC Milan, had insisted on Wednesday that he would continue his political activities.

'I will be present in the electoral campaign with interviews on televisions and in newspapers,' he said during a video-conference of Forza Italia's women's movement.

He recognised 'the limitations imposed on my activities by testing positive for the coronavirus... but I will continue the battle.'

- Jet-set playground -

Regional elections are due to take place in two weeks as well as a referendum on reducing the number of Italian parliamentarians.

Well-wishes from both the right and left streamed in after reports he had contracted the disease -- most likely while holidaying in Sardinia.

A first test proved negative, but he was tested again after some people he met on the Italian island -- including Italian businessman and former Formula One racing team Benetton managing director Flavio Briatore -- tested positive, according to Italian news reports.

Berlusconi, famed for his steamy dinner parties, grabbed headlines again in March after he reportedly split from his longtime girlfriend Francesca Pascale to date Fascina, some 53 years his junior.

At the time, the dating antics of the man at the centre of the famous 'bunga-bunga' soirees brought Italians a welcome distraction as the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip on the country.

The twice-divorced media magnate reportedly ditched Pascale for Fascina, an MP from his party.

In June, he announced in local media he aimed for a return to Italian football's top table for the first time since selling AC Milan after his new club Monza was promoted to Italy's Serie B.

- 'Four times 20' -

Berlusconi is the latest among a line of celebrities who have contracted the coronavirus since it was first discovered in Wuhan City, in China in December last year.

The list also includes Paris Saint-Germain football players Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes who reportedly tested positive earlier this week.

Also on the list are movie stars Tom Hanks and Robert Pattinson, whom Hollywood trade publications said contracted the disease while filming the latest Batman movie in Britain.

The disease has killed more than 860,000 people globally since the outbreak emerged, with more than 26 million cases registered.

More than 35,500 people have died in Italy - one of the first countries in Europe to be hit - latest figures said Friday. The country, where almost 273,000 cases have been reported, emerged in May from a strict two-month lockdown.

Berlusconi's hospitalisation marks his return to the San Raffaele facility where he has been receiving treatment for years.

In the spring of 2019, he was operated on for an intestinal obstruction at the same facility where he underwent open-heart surgery in June 2016.

Berlusconi, known for his penchant for younger women, in the past used his vitality as a political argument.

'Even as we grow older, we do not shrink from the responsibilities to which we have been called and which life continues to impose on us,' he said in 2016.

'Basically we are not really 80, but four times 20,' he said.

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