“I can say now, clearly, looking you in the eye, that the clinical indications, supported by diagnostic tests, are soothing, heartwarming” regarding Berlusconi’s condition, the doctor said.
Zangrillo said he had examined Berlusconi at home a day earlier and decided it was best to hospitalize him after detecting “stale lung damage”.
Berlusconi, he said, initially resisted – “his mood is not the best” – but agreed to be hospitalized after hearing details of his condition, Zangrillo said.
The decision also took into account his age – the three-time former prime minister will be 84 in a few weeks – and previous health issues, which included heart issues that required a pacemaker implant several years ago.
Previously, Italian state radio said tests showed the media mogul had the “beginnings” of pneumonia in both lungs.
But Zangrillo, responding to reporters’ questions, called the lung problem an “early stage lung infection.” He said Berlusconi was not on a ventilator but “was breathing spontaneously”.
That, along with other medical test results, “allows us to be optimistic for the next few hours and days” on the tipster, he said.
Zangrillo is responsible for intensive care and anesthesiology at San Raffaele Hospital. However, Zangrillo stressed that his patient is not in intensive care.
Instead, Berlusconi was reportedly isolated in a section of the 6th floor of the hospital reserved for VIPs. He had been there several times in recent years for previous medical problems.
Sky TG24, reporting from outside the hospital, said Berlusconi was given oxygen to help him breathe, but Zangrillo made no mention of it.
Sky also said he arrived by private car and entered the hospital.
On Thursday, Berlusconi, speaking in a loud but somewhat nasal voice from his domain on the outskirts of Milan, told his supporters via an audio connection that he no longer had a fever or pain.
Italian media have said that two of his adult children, whom he recently spent time with on the island of Capri, were recently diagnosed with COVID-19. Berlusconi’s companion, a young woman who previously worked in the office of the football team he once owned, has also reportedly tested positive for the virus.
When asked if any of his family had been hospitalized, Zangrillo said no.
Berlusconi referred to himself and his family when he spoke about COVID-19 in comments to Italian newspaper La Stampa on Thursday: “Unfortunately, it’s not a cold… Now I realize more than ever how severe the pandemic is.
The newspaper further quoted him as saying that he had a fever and aches and pains in the muscles and bones earlier in the week, “but it’s over.”
In 1997, Berlusconi successfully fought prostate cancer. In 2006, he underwent heart tests in San Raffaele after passing out during a speech. A few weeks later, he was fitted with a pacemaker at an American hospital. He also had bowel surgery and suffered from an inflammatory eye condition in the past.
Berlusconi spent part of his summer vacation in his seaside villa on the emerald coast of Sardinia. Many recent cases of COVID-19 in Italy have been linked to clusters of people who have vacationed in Sardinia.
After being convicted of tax evasion in 2013, he had to relinquish his seat in the Senate. He is currently a legislator in the European Parliament.
After testing positive for the virus this week, Berlusconi vowed to continue campaigning for Forza Italia, the center-right party he created more than 25 years ago, ahead of the next regional elections.
The party has lost popularity with Italian voters in recent years as it grapples with legal issues related to its media empire and its famous “bunga bunga” parties with young women.
This version corrects Senator Ronzulli’s first name to Licia, not Lucia.