Pope Francis cancels public events to avoid spread of coronavirus

Pope Francis will deliver his weekly Sunday greeting to pilgrims in Rome via video, instead of at the window on St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican announced Saturday in a statement, citing concerns over the potential spread of coronavirus

According to the Vatican, such measures are being take to “avoid the risk of spreading of the Covid-19 due to crowds gathering” around St. Peter’s Square. 

The Pope, who was recently confirmed to have been suffering from a cold, will also conduct his weekly Wednesday audience via video link, rather than in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis coughing
Pope Francis coughing

Meanwhile, all public participation at the Pope’s weekday private mass at the Vatican has been cancelled through March 15, the Vatican confirmed in its statement.

The Pope celebrates mass daily and normally a small group of visitors join him.

Netherlands confirms new coronavirus cases, bringing national total to 188

Dutch health authorities have confirmed new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases across the Netherlands to 188, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment confirmed Saturday in a statement.

“Since yesterday, 60 new patients have been reported…this brings the total number of positively tested patients to 188, of which 1 patient died,” the statement outlined, confirming that while most patients remain in self-isolation, 24 have been hospitalized.

According to the Dutch health authority, most newly identified patients were registered in the southern province of North Brabant.

“The investigation into the spread of the virus in North Brabant has since started…if you have a cold, are you coughing or have a fever: stay at home and limit your social contacts,” the statement urged.

According to the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, 112 of the confirmed coronavirus patients had recently been abroad; of these individuals, 103 had travelled to northern Italy.

Additionally, 47 patients contracted the virus through contact with a previously diagnosed patient.

Coronavirus in Netherlands
A visitor uses disinfecting hand gel at the main entrance of the “European Fine Art Fai” (TEFAF) in Maastricht, on March 6, 2020. (Photo by Marcel VAN HOORN / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT

Investigations are underway to determine how the remaining 29 patients contracted the virus.

US sailor tests positive for coronavirus in Europe

A US Navy sailor stationed in Naples, Italy, has tested positive for the coronavirus, marking the first positive case for a US service member stationed in Europe, according to a statement from US European Command and U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa.

The service member, stationed at a naval support facility in Naples, tested positive Friday and is currently restricted to their residence, according to the statement, receiving medical and other support in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Italian guidelines. 


Authorities said health professionals from the US military are conducting what they call “a thorough contact investigation” to determine if any other personnel may have been exposed. They say depending on the results other precautionary measures may be taken.

The statement said personnel that the service member came in close contact with have already been notified are in self-isolation at their residences. 


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