The Latest: Pope delivers catechism from private library
The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak sweeping the globe:
Pope Francis held his weekly general audience in his private library as the Vatican implemented Italy’s drastic coronavirus lockdown measures and barred the general public from St. Peter’s Square and took precautions to limit the spread of infections in the tiny city-state.
Francis sent out special prayers for prisoners, the sick and hospital personnel caring for them, delivering his weekly catechism lesson via livestream rather than in person. He was surrounded by a handful of priest translators who took turns delivering his comments in a variety of languages, making sure to sit a meter (yard) apart.
Usually the pope’s weekly Wednesday audience is a boisterous affair that fills St. Peter’s or the Vatican auditorium with tens of thousands of people. But for this week’s audience, the first of Italy’s nationwide lockdown, the square was empty and police barred access to St. Peter’s Basilica to anyone but individuals seeking to pray.
Scores of passengers and crew aboard a river cruise boat are being held under quarantine in eastern Cambodia after a British passenger tested positive for the coronavirus.
The vessel belonging to Viking River Cruises is under police guard as it remains moored on the Mekong River outside the town of Kampong Cham.
Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng on Wednesday visited the Kampong Cham provincial hospital, where the 65-year-old woman from the United Kingdom is being held for observation and treatment. The woman is Cambodia’s third confirmed case.
Mam Bunheng said late Tuesday that the remaining 63 passengers and crew aboard would be tested and quarantined for 14 days. Four other passengers from the U.K. have already been tested with negative results.
The luxury cruise originated in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and visited the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, before arriving at Kampong Cham.
The Vatican representative to East Timor said a visit by Pope Francis has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Monsignor Marco Sprizzi of the Apostolic Nunciature told reporters in Dili that Francis had previously indicated his willingness to visit East Timor later this year. But Sprizzi cited concerns about large crowds, saying “because he did not want his people affected by the coronavirus, he canceled his visit.”
The Vatican had never confirmed Francis would visit Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea later this year. The only foreign travel it has confirmed this year, a May 31 daytrip to Malta, likely will be called off given Malta on Tuesday barred all air traffic to and from Italy.
The Vatican, a walled city-state in the heart of Rome, has adopted the same sweeping lockdown measures imposed throughout Italy to contain the spread of the virus.
Francis now issues his blessings and celebrates his private morning Mass via livestream, and the Vatican has closed St. Peter’s Basilica to tourists, though it remains open for private prayer.
Indonesia says a foreigner has become its first fatality from COVID-19.
Achmad Yurianto, the government spokesman on efforts to contain the coronavirus, said Wednesday the 53-year-old woman had diabetes and lung disease and had contracted the virus abroad.
Yurianto did not reveal the patient’s nationality and said her husband will be repatriated soon.
The spokesman said two of Indonesia’s 27 cases have recovered. More than 119,000 people worldwide have contracted the virus, with more than half of those recovered. The virus causes mild illness for most people but can severe in older people and those with existing health problems.
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