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Italy's Berlusconi tests positive for coronavirus: reports

Berlusconi was first tested on August 25 after returning from a holiday in Sardinia
Berlusconi was first tested on August 25 after returning from a holiday in Sardinia Tiziana FABI AFP/File
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Rome (AFP)

Italy's former prime minister the media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and is in quarantine at home.

Berlusconi, who once owned AC Milan, stressed 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.

However he recognised "the limitations imposed on my activities by testing positive for the coronavirus... but I will continue the battle."

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

Earlier Wednesday his party said that Berlusconi, who will turn 84 at the end of September, had two tests come back positive, but "is continuing to work from his home in Arcore" near the financial hub Milan, "where he will be spending the planned quarantine period".

"He is asymptomatic," said his doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, according to the daily La Repubblica.

Berlusconi was first tested on August 25 after returning from a holiday in Sardinia where he owns a luxury property.

The result was negative, but he was tested again after some people he met on the Italian island were found to be positive.

These included businessman Flavio Briatore, former managing director of the Benetton Formula One racing team, who was briefly hospitalised in Milan.

Briatore's "Le Billionnaire" nightclub in Sardinia was closed down in August after employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Messages of support for Berlusconi came in from all sides of the political spectrum.

Matteo Salvini, head of the far-right League party, wished him a swift recovery, as did former leftwing prime minister Matteo Renzi.

Berlusconi had left for France in late February, at a time when Italy was becoming the epicentre of COVID-19 in Europe.

Forza Italia number two Antonio Tajani said at the time that doctors had warned the political veteran to actively avoid becoming infected.

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