In order to regulate the flow of pilgrims which is always more numerous during the 40 days of Lent and at Easter, the Holy See has discreetly raised its level of vigilance in order to prepare for any eventuality in view of an epidemic of COVID-19, the now official name for the coronavirus.
Monday February 24, 2020, in the parish of Sainte-Anne, beyond the Leonine wall, an elderly woman dips her fingers in the holy water font in order to make her sign of the cross. A little astonished, she repeats her gesture several times: and for good reason, the holy water has been removed from all the churches enclosed within the Vatican walls.
In the context of the worsening situation in Italy, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said the same day that “disinfectant hand gel and protective masks would now be guaranteed to all staff having access to Vatican City.”
Matteo Bruni added that a nurse and a doctor are on call 24 hours a day to detect any symptoms of contamination and to provide emergency care to patients.
The Vatican press room announced that “certain events scheduled for the next few days in closed places, with a large influx of the public, have been postponed.”
Thus, the Pontifical Urban University was to have hosted a conference presenting a work dedicated to the figure of Cardinal Celso Costantini. Many participants were expected, including Cardinals Parolin, Taglé, and Filoni. However, developments have led to the postponement of this event.
On the other hand, the Vicariate of Rome has confirmed that, for its part, the papal audiences and ceremonies have not been, to date, affected by these postponements. Clarifications that the ancient area of Latium is not, to date, affected by health restrictions related to the coronavirus epidemic.