The 83-year-old Pope Francis reportedly urged Catholic priests on March 10 to 'have the courage' to go out and hand help to coronavirus patients. Pope's message for Catholic priests came after Italy was put on a nationwide lockdown. Italy is also the epicentre of the European virus outbreak with more than 9,000 cases and 463 deaths so far.
During a mass in the Vatican City, the Pope said, “Let us pray to the Lord also for our priests, that they may have the courage to go out and visit the sick... and to accompany the medical staff and volunteers in the work they do”.
On the other hand, the Italian government has asked people not to travel. The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on March 10 said that the government is extending its coronavirus quarantine measures, which also include a ban on public gathering, to the entire country. Speaking at a televised press conference, Conte said people would only be permitted to travel for work or family emergencies.
Italy is the worst-hit country after China. Earlier, the country had only locked down several provinces in the north, including financial hub Milan and tourist hotspot Venice. However, as the number of confirmed cases increased to 9,172 from 7,375, the Italian PM ordered the whole country to be under lockdown.
In the latest set of measures to combat COVID-19, schools and universities already shut down across the nation will extend their closures until April 3, alongside travel restrictions. PM Conte urged his fellow countrymen to stay at home and avoid public gatherings while stating that public transport facilities will remain operational. Meanwhile, a crackdown on restaurants and cafes, which had been told to close at dusk in the north of the country, will now be extended nationwide.
First detected in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei Province of China, the virus outbreak has now spread across more than 80 countries since December 2019. As per reports, the total number of confirmed cases within China has reportedly hit 80,761 and more than one lakh worldwide. According to reports, the death toll in China has also surpassed 3,000 and the National Health Commission also confirmed more than 26 new cases. The death toll due to the deadly virus across the world also mounted to 4,031.