March 3, 2020 / 3:30 PM / a month ago

Second papal conference postponed because of coronavirus

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A second international conference that was to have been held with Pope Francis taking part has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak around the world, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

The meeting of world political, cultural, and religious leaders to sign “A Global Compact on Education” that was to have taken place at the Vatican in May 10-17 has been rescheduled for Oct. 11-18.

On Sunday, organisers postponed until November a conference on the world economy due to take place in the Italian city of Assisi with the pope.

In both cases, organisers said it was because many of the participants might not be able to travel to Italy. Participants from more than 100 countries were expected at both events.

Italy has been the European nation worst-affected by the virus, and some airlines have reduced or cancelled flights to and from the country.

The death toll in Italy jumped to 52 on Monday from 34 the day before and the total number of confirmed cases climbed past the 2,000-mark.

On Tuesday, Italian newspaper Il Messaggero said the pope, who cancelled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy because he is suffering from a cold, had tested negative for coronavirus.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had no comment on the report.

The 83-year-old Roman Catholic leader, who had part of one lung removed because of an illness decades ago, cancelled most audiences last week and is next due to appear in public on Sunday.

The pope is still scheduled to go to Malta on May 31.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Alex Richardson

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