Italy’s former PM Berlusconi in hospital for leukaemia scheduled checks

By Giulio Piovaccari

MILAN (Reuters) -Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been re-admitted to a hospital in Milan for scheduled medical checks, a bulletin said on Friday, just weeks after being discharged following a long stay.

Berlusconi, 86, had left San Raffaele last month after six weeks of treatment for a lung infection linked to a chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia, a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells.

“Silvio Berlusconi is currently at the San Raffaele Hospital to undergo scheduled tests in connection with his known hematological pathology,” the San Raffaele hospital bulletin signed by doctors Alberto Zangrillo and Fabio Ciceri said.

It added the hospitalisation, which came earlier than planned, was not related to “any criticality or alarm” and responded “to clinical criteria of normal practice in medicine.”

Berlusconi served as prime minister in 1994-1995, 2001-2006 and 2008-2011 and although he does not have a direct role in government, his Forza Italia party is a member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing coalition.

A source from Forza Italia said Berlusconi might spend the night in hospital, after local media reports that he would stay there overnight.

B-Shares in MFE-MediaForEurope, which is controlled by the Berlusconi family, extended gains after the news and were trading up almost 5% around 1500 GMT.

Berlusconi’s health has markedly deteriorated in recent years, with open-heart surgery in 2016 and numerous hospital admissions since contracting COVID-19 three years ago.

“Come on Silvio,” Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, one of Berlusconi’s main political allies, wrote in an Instagram post, commenting on the news of Berlusconi’s hospitalisation.

In a statement, Salvini – who is also transport minister – said he spoke to Berlusconi via telephone and asked for reassurance on his health.

“The two also exchanged a couple of jokes about soccer,” the statement from Salvini’s League party said.

During his previous hospitalisation, Berlusconi remained politically active, appearing in two video messages this month in which he looked frail but insisted he was ready to return to work.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante, Emilio Parodi, Federico Maccioni and Stefano Bernabei, editing by Toby Chopra, Nick Macfie, William Maclean)