Pope Francis live-streams his prayers amid coronavirus outbreak

Vatican [Italy], Mar 08 (ANI): Breaking a centuries-old tradition as the country deals with coronavirus outbreak, Pope Francis here live-streamed his prayers to giant screens in St. Peter's Square instead of addressing through Vatican palazzo window on Sunday.

The pope appeared for a few seconds at a Vatican palazzo window to wave to the small crowd gathered in Saint Peter's Square. However, he did not make any comments there. His address was broadcasted live from the Vatican's apostolic library.

"I am close through prayer with the people who suffer from the current coronavirus epidemic," the Pope was quoted by Vatican News.

"I unite myself to my brother Bishops in encouraging the faithful to live this difficult moment with the strength of the faith, the certainty of hope and the ardour of charity," said the Pope who was tested negative for coronavirus.

Italy is the European country hardest hit by the virus, with at least 4,636 reported cases and 197 deaths, most in the last week.

Last week, the 83-year-old authority canceled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy, but the Vatican said he was suffering only from a cold.

The Pope's contact with others has been limited in an effort to keep him from being infected. He has stopped celebrating the morning Mass before invited guests at the chapel in the Vatican hotel, where he lives. His age and history of respiratory infection - he had part of one lung removed when he was young - makes him especially vulnerable to the disease.

Italy has recommended that older people remain at home.

Also, the Vatican said it suspended its healthcare services to disinfect its facilities after a patient tested positive for coronavirus.

Italy has temporarily closed all its schools, universities, cinemas and theaters due to the outbreak. (ANI)