Rome, March 8: Instead of addressing the crowd from a window overlooking St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis will deliver Sunday prayers via a livestream video from a library inside the Vatican because of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, officials have said.
The Pope would not hold his general audience from the window on Wednesday either, the church officials said on Saturday, The New York Post reported. Italy is the European country hardest hit by the virus, with at least 4,636 reported cases and 197 deaths, most in the last week. Coronavirus Death Toll in Italy Rises to 52, More than 2,000 People Infected with COVID-19.
Last week, the 83-year-old authority cancelled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy, but the Vatican said he was suffering only from a cold. He was tested for coronavirus and the results came back negative on Tuesday.
"The cold with which the Holy Father was diagnosed is running its due course," said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni on Friday."He continues to celebrate Holy Mass daily and follow the Spiritual Exercises, as we have reported in recent days," Bruni added.
The Pope's contact with others has been limited in an effort to keep him from being infected. He has stopped celebrating the morning Mass before invited guests at the chapel in the Vatican hotel, where he lives. His age and history of respiratory infection - he had part of one lung removed when he was young - makes him especially vulnerable to the disease.
Italy has recommended that older people remain at home. Also, the Vatican said it suspended its healthcare services to disinfect its facilities after a patient tested positive for coronavirus. Italy has temporarily closed all its schools, universities, cinemas and theaters due to the outbreak.