THE Pope Francis he’s got infection of the respiratory system and will need to spend “a few days” in the hospital in Rome, according to a new announcement from the Vatican.

In accordance with BBC Newsthe pontiff has had breathing difficulties in recent days but does not have Covid, the statement added.

His closest staff, including security, were expected to stay overnight at Gemelli Hospital, a person with direct knowledge told the BBC earlier.

A source earlier said the medical checks would continue as long as necessary.

Earlier, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the Pope had been taken to hospital for “some scheduled checks”.

The new statement said the infection “will require several days of appropriate hospital medical treatment.”

“Pope Francis is moved by the many messages he has received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer,” it added.

This is the busiest time of year for Pope Francis, 86, with many events and services planned ahead of the Easter weekend.

Palm Sunday Mass is scheduled for this weekend and Holy Week and Easter celebrations next week.

He is also scheduled to visit Hungary at the end of April.

On Wednesday morning, he presided over his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. Although he appeared to be in good spirits, he was seen grimacing as he was helped into his vehicle, AFP news agency reports.

The pontiff has suffered from mobility problems related to his knee in recent months, forcing him to use a wheelchair.

He also underwent surgery to treat a colon problem at the same hospital in Rome in 2021. In January he said the condition had returned.

Despite his ailments, the Pope has remained active and has traveled abroad this year. He visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan in February.

In January, the Pope presided over the funeral of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI – who was the first pope to voluntarily resign in centuries. He said this was due to ill health.

Pope Francis has previously indicated that he may also wish to follow in Benedict’s footsteps should his health deteriorate.