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Pope back in hospital with relapse of flu symptoms

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Two weeks after being released from the hospital after suffering breathing difficulty related to the flu, Pope John Paul II apparently suffered a relapse and returned Feb. 24 to Rome's Gemelli Hospital.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said, "Yesterday afternoon, Feb. 23, the Holy Father had a relapse of the flu syndrome with which he had been affected in the preceding weeks.

"For that reason, the pope was hospitalized this morning at the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic for the appropriate specialized care and further tests," Navarro-Valls said.

The spokesman said the 84-year-old pope left the Vatican at 11:25 and arrived at Gemelli at about 11:45 a.m. He did not provide further details.

Police at the hospital said the pope arrived by ambulance at a side entrance to the hospital, not at the entrance to the emergency room. A source at the hospital said Pope John Paul was conscious when he arrived.

Most people working at the hospital did not know the pope was inside even an hour after he had arrived.

Nicola Cerbino, the hospital spokesman, said there were no immediate plans to issue another medical bulletin.

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