Pope cancels trip to Dubai for COP28 on doctors' orders over health concerns

Pope Francis has cancelled his trip Credit: AP

Pope Francis has cancelled his trip to Dubai for COP28 on doctors’ orders, the Vatican has announced.

Over the weekend it was revealed that Francis had a lung inflammation but still planned to go to Dubai, where he was to become the first pontiff to address a United Nations (UN) climate conference.

Tuesday's announcement marked the second time the pope’s frail health had forced the cancellation of a foreign trip.

He had to postpone a planned trip to Congo and South Sudan in 2022 because of knee inflammation, though he was able to make the journey earlier this year.

People adjust the flags for the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations at the plenary ahead of the COP28. Credit: AP

Francis had been scheduled to leave Rome this Friday to address the COP28 meeting first thing on Saturday morning.

The following day he was expected to inaugurate a faith pavilion on the sidelines of the conference before returning home.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis was improving from the flu and inflammation of his respiratory tract, which had forced him to cancel his audiences on Saturday.

But he said that "the doctors have asked the pope not to make the trip planned for the coming days to Dubai".

"Pope Francis accepted the doctors’ request with great regret and the trip is therefore cancelled," he added.

Francis, who turns 87 next month, had part of one lung removed when he was younger, and came down with the flu late last week.

He went to the hospital last Saturday for a CT scan, with the Vatican saying the test had ruled out pneumonia.

The Pope said talks should take place with the help of international powers. Credit: Alessandra Tarantino/AP

On Sunday, he skipped his traditional appearance at his studio window overlooking St Peter's Square to avoid the cold.

Instead, Francis gave the traditional noon blessing in a televised appearance from the chapel, in the Vatican hotel, where he lives, and asked a priest to read his written daily reflections out loud.

Francis coughed and spoke in a whisper, while sporting the cannula in which he was receiving antibiotics intravenously.

People who saw him this week said his health was improving, but that he still spoke in a whisper.

When asked about his health in a recent interview, Francis quipped in reply what has become his standard line: "Still alive, you know."

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