- Pope Francis led Ash Wednesday prayers at the St Peter's Square at the Vatican where he prayed for the coronavirus patients
- The Pontiff appeared to have a cold and spoke with a slightly hoarse voice and coughed during the service while blowing his nose at the time
- The Pope was seen shaking hands with the faithful and even kissed a baby besides greeting visiting bishops
Pope Francis has been forced to cancel a planned mass prayer to mark the start of Lent that was to be held at the St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome.
Briefly.co.za learnt that this was after the Pontiff was taken ill after he showed signs of the deadly coronavirus during Ash Wednesday at St Peter's Square at the Vatican, where he prayed for the patients.
Daily Mirror reported on Thursday, February 27, that Pope Francis appeared to have a cold and spoke with a slightly hoarse voice and coughed during the service.
The Vatican confirmed the pope would proceed with his other schedule but at his residence owing to what was termed as a "slight indisposition".
"Because of a slight indisposition, he preferred to stay inside Santa Marta (a guesthouse where the Pope lives)" the Vatican said.
During the Ash Wednesday prayers, the Pope expressed his support for coronavirus victims.
Even though it was not immediately established whether or not he met one of the suspected cases, he was seen shaking hands with the faithful and even kissed a baby.
He also greeted the visiting bishops even as the deadly Covid-19 continued to spread to other parts of Europe.
“I wish, again, to express my closeness to those who are ill with coronavirus and to health-care workers who are caring for them," he said.
By Thursday, February 27, the disease had claimed 2,812 lives while 33,198 patients having recovered from the 82,526 reported cases worldwide.
In Italy alone, at least 14 people have died from the initial 528 cases reported while 42 patients were said to have recovered.
At least an additional 35 cases in the European nation remained critical.
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