Pope Francis strongly urged Catholic priests to have the courage to go out and help the infected.
This comes after the Italian government decided to put the entire country on nationwide lockdown.
During a mass in the Vatican, the pontiff 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.”
His service was held at the chapel of the Santa Marta guest house, where the pontiff lives, and conducted just hours after Italy’s decision to extend quarantine measures.
The pope cancelled a series of engagements last week, after suffering from colds during an Ash Wednesday service.
He was speaking with a horse voice and blowing his nose in church, and was pictured hugging and kissing members of the public
This caused fears among Italians, although Pope Francis is thought to have tested negative of the coronavirus last week.
Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square was almost empty on Tuesday, with only a handful of people walking around without masks.
The Italian authorities encouraged people to stay at home, avoid travelling, and avoid any contact with the infected.
Nationwide restrictive measures were put in place in the hardest-hit regions over the weekend in an effort to contain the epidemic.
The said restrictions include checkpoints on roads and in railway stations, and will be in effect until April 3.
Travelling across Italy is only permitted for “urgent, verifiable work situations and emergencies or health reasons.”
Those who still wish to continue their travels, they will need to fill in a document explaining their reasons for doing so and carry it with them.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that “he wants as many people as possible to stay at home,” albeit the public transport remained operational.