Pope cancels second day of events after suffering from ‘flu-like’ illness

The Pope is still "slightly unwell" and has postponed all official audiences for a second day.

Pope Francis is working from his residence, the Vatican said in a statement, but didn't confirm what the
83-year-old was suffering from.

At his general audience on Wednesday he appeared to have a cold and spoke with a slightly hoarse voice.

He coughed during an afternoon Ash Wednesday service in a Rome church, his last appearance outside the Vatican.

Spokesman Matteo Bruni said the pope had said early morning Mass as customary in the chapel of the Santa Marta guest house where he lives and greeted those who attended.

"But he thought it was best to postpone today's official audiences.

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"The meetings scheduled to take place in Santa Marta will take place regularly," Mr Bruni said, adding that the pope was still "slightly unwell".

On Friday morning, he was to have received executives from Microsoft Corp, International Business Machines Corp, and other technology companies.

His speech to them from the Apostolic Palace was to have been streamed to participants of a conference in Rome on ethics in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The pope usually spends mornings making speeches to groups and meeting heads of state in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

But unlike previous popes, he chose not to live in its spacious papal apartments and opted for simple quarters in Santa
Marta, where he spends the rest of the day mostly working on Church matters.

On Thursday he cancelled a visit to a Rome basilica.

Pope Francis is missing a part of one lung. It was removed when he was in his early 20s in his native Buenos Aires after he suffered from tuberculosis.

He also suffers some leg pain due to sciatica, for which he undergoes regular physical therapy and which explains his
occasional difficulty climbing steps.

But he is in generally good health. Some Lent Ash Wednesday services were cancelled or limited in areas of northern Italy hit by the spread of coronavirus.

More than 400 people have contracted the disease and 12 have died of it in Italy, in the worst contagion from the coronavirus so far recorded in Europe.

A number of people wore masks in St. Peter's Square at his Wednesday general audience.

Roman Catholic authorities in Jerusalem have instructed their priests to give communion by hand only, rather than placing the wafers on worshippers' tongues, and to empty holy water fonts – as precautions against the spread of the coronavirus.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem announced the measures on Thursday, shortly after the start of Lent, the 40-day season that leads up to Easter.

Millions of pilgrims frequent Jerusalem and other holy cities such as Nazareth and Bethlehem each year.

Earlier on Friday, Israel confirmed its second case of coronavirus, a person it said had been in close contact with a
man who tested positive after visiting Italy.

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