Pope Francis on Wednesday expressed his solidarity with victims of the novel coronavirus.
He also appreciated those working to battle the virus.
Italy has suffered the worst outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Europe, with 374 cases of the disease and 12 deaths.
“I would like to express my closeness to the coronavirus patients and to the health workers who are treating them, as well as to the civil authorities,” the pope said at his weekly audience at the Vatican.
Only a few of the 12,000 or so faithful who turned out to see him on Saint Peter’s Square were wearing face masks.