Pope Francis blows his nose as he leads Ash Wednesday mass which opens Lent, the forty-day period of abstinence and deprivation for Christians before Holy Week and Easter. The Vatican has announced that Easter celebrations will be held without the presence of a congregation, due to the pandemic. Photo: AFP/Alberto Pizzoli

The Vatican said Sunday that its traditional Easter week celebrations would be held this year without worshippers 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’s 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.

Italy is the hardest-hit European country so far in the pandemic.

AFP

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