Pope Francis Cancels Event in Italy Due to Illness Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Pope Francis will skip a planned Mass with Rome clergy Thursday due to "slight" illness, the Vatican announced shortly before the papal visit.

The Vatican announced the 83-year-old Pope has a "slight indisposition," and would continue with the rest of his work Thursday, but "preferred to stay near Santa Marta," the Vatican hotel in which he resides. No further details were released about Pope Francis' illness, but he was seen coughing and blowing his nose during Ash Wednesday Mass, according to Fox News.

Pope Francis being under the weather comes amid an outbreak of the coronavirus in Italy, which has been recorded in more than 400 people, the vast majority of which in the northern part of the country, according to the country's Civil Protection agency. Only three cases were recorded in Rome, but all three were reportedly cured.

Globally, more than 80,000 people in about 40 countries have been infected with the coronavirus, which first emerged as a global threat in December. The majority of cases have still been recorded in China.

In the United States, 14 total cases have been diagnosed, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in addition to 39 cases among "repatriated persons from high-risk settings," for a current total of 53 cases within the U.S.

Nancy Messonnier, the Centers for Disease Control's director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, announced earlier this week that Americans should prepare for a rise of the virus and its eventual impact on their day-to-day life.

"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," Messonnier told reporters, as per Yahoo News.

Messonnier added it is no longer "a matter of if, but when" the virus spreads in the U.S., and how many people end up contracting a severe case of the virus.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requested $2.5 billion in emergency funding from lawmakers at a budget hearing Tuesday, at least half of which would fund the outbreak response.

Azar called the spread an "unprecedented...health care challenge, globally," and requested more resources to study and prevent the virus' transmission.


Photo credit: Getty / Vatican Pool