The Pope, 83, is taken ill one day after showing solidarity with coronavirus sufferers

The Pope, 83, is taken ill one day after showing solidarity with coronavirus sufferers

The Pope has been taken ill one day after showing solidarity with coronavirus suffers and shaking the hands of his congregation.

The 83-year-old has now canceled a planned mass in Rome due to what the Vatican has described as a "slight indisposition", per the New York Times. While the nature of the Pope's illness is not known, while conducting mass for Ash Wednesday yesterday, he was seen coughing and blowing his nose.

The Pope has previously shown disdain for public displays of affection from strangers: 

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis will be continuing with the rest of his planned work today, but he "preferred to stay near Santa Marta", which is the Vatican hotel where he lives.

Pope Francis burying his face in his hands. Credit: PA Images

Yesterday, the Pope was pictured touching people and kissing their hands as he walked through the crowds of worshippers who had gathered in St. Peter's Square of the Vatican City.

This comes as people in affected areas have been encouraged to practice impeccable hygiene and maintain social distancing between themselves and anyone who is showing symptoms, per the World Health Organisation.

The Pope holding a person's hand. Credit: PA Images

The news comes as Italy is declared the center of the European coronavirus outbreak, with the number of confirmed cases rising to 400 today, per the Daily Mail.

Pope Francis blowing his nose. Credit: PA Images

There have been three confirmed cases of coronavirus in Rome, however, they have all been cured.

Today, the death toll from the virus surpassed 2,800 people, per CNN, with an additional 82,000 cases confirmed at the time of writing. To put the scale of the problem into context, there have now been confirmed cases on every continent bar Antarctica.

As reported by Vatican News, yesterday the Pope showed solidarity for those suffering from the virus and praised those caring for them.

He said: "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."