Pope feels caged in by coronavirus

Pope Francis said he felt “caged” when he made his Sunday blessing over the internet from inside the Vatican instead of from a window on Sunday.

“It’s a bit strange this Angelus prayer today with the pope caged in the library, but I see you, and I am close to you,” he said.

This is the first time Francis missed giving the blessing and reading an address from the window since his election in 2013, apart from times he was travelling outside Rome.

At present, he is continuing to limit his public appearances as a precautionary measure but will stream them on the internet from inside the Vatican.

On Sunday the Vatican said Francis will not address crowds from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, and will also not hold his general audience from there this Wednesday.

Attending the pope’s morning Mass in his residence has been suspended until 15 March.

“I am close in prayer to people who are suffering because of the current coronavirus epidemic as well as to all those who are taking care of them,” Francis said.

He encouraged the faithful “to live this difficult moment with the strength of faith, the certainty of hope and the fervour of charity”. The window was then opened, and he waved briefly and silently at the hundreds of people waiting there.

The head of Italy’s national health institute, Silvio Brusoferro, is urging Italians to take precautions as the number of people infected with the virus continues to rise.

He is advising people to avoid public places and maintain a distance from each other, to protect the elderly.

Brusoferro says there is evidence of “superficial attitudes″ toward the measures.

He is urging the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, to stay at home if possible and to avoid emergency rooms.

They should contact their doctors directly in case of illness, he said.

Italy has also asked people to keep one-meter apart from strangers in public and to refrain from unnecessary travel.



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