The Vatican said Sunday its traditional Easter week celebrations would be held this year without worshipers due to the coronavirus.
“Because of the current global public health emergency, all the liturgical celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful,” the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household said in a statement.
The office is in charge of coordinating most of Pope Francis’ public schedule and his audiences with heads of state and other dignitaries.
The Vatican also said: “Until April 12, the general audiences and the Angelus presided over by the Holy Father will be available only in live streaming on the official Vatican News website.”
According to the latest tally late Saturday, there have been 1,441 deaths in Italy due to COVID-19, and more than 21,000 Italians have tested positive.
The Archdiocese of Manila had earlier said there will be no Masses in all churches under it, which covers five cities in Metro Manila, for six days starting March 14 after the alert on COVID-19 was raised to Code Red Sub-level 2.
“We are enjoined to avoid large gatherings of people to avert the further spread of the virus. We heed this call not with panic but with care for charity to others and the common good,” said Apostolic Administrator and Bishop Broderick Pabillo in a Pastoral Letter dated March 13.
“Hence in the Archdiocese of Manila, I dispense all the faithful from the obligation of going to Mass this Sunday,” Pabillo said of the area that covers the cities of Manila, Makati, San Juan, Mandaluyong and Pasay.
“There will be no public celebration of the Holy Mass and no public activities in all the churches in the Archdiocese for seven days, starting Saturday, March 14, till Friday, March 20,” he said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III had urged the public to stop attending masses and to stop going to cinemas.
“We will stop it for now because that is where the virus will come from. It is like a petri dish,” said Duque when asked if the Health department would recommend a stop to attending masses.
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