POPE Francis has become the latest victim suspected on contracting the dreaded coronavirus after he was forced to cancel a mass upon catching an unspecified illness after meeting with several infected people earlier this week.
Yesterday, the Catholic pontiff met with people who had contracted coronavirus to show his sympathy with their plight but has since taken ill, unable to leave Rome. Pope Francis, 83, is reported to have a slight indisposition, so has chosen to stay near Santa Marta, the Vatican hotel where he uses as his residence.
Although the Vatican has not disclosed the nature of his illness, the pope was seen coughing and blowing his nose during yesterday’s Ash Wednesday mass. Speaking during the service the pope told well-wishers, “I wish, again, to express my closeness to those who are ill with coronavirus and to health-care workers who are caring for them.”
Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Italy as more than 400 people, have been infected in the north of the country. Pope Francis had been scheduled to go to the St John Lateran Basilica to meet with Rome clergy and celebrate a penitential Mass at the start of Lent today but had to cancel this.
As a young man, Pope Francis lost part of one lung because of a respiratory illness and suffers from sciatica, which makes walking difficult. In the main, however, has generally enjoyed good health.