March 1, 2020 / 7:06 PM / 3 months ago

World economy conference with pope postponed due to coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask drives an ambulance as he leaves the cordoned area in a "check-point six", few kilometers from the small town of Castiglione d'Adda, as a coronavirus outbreak continues to grow in northern Italy, February 27, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

ROME (Reuters) - A conference on the world economy due to take place in Italy later this month with Pope Francis taking part has been postponed until November because of the coronavirus outbreak, organizers said on Sunday.

The conference, organized by the Roman Catholic Franciscan order, was to have taken place in Assisi on March 26-28 and be closed by the pope on the last day. It has now been rescheduled for Nov. 21.

Organizers said the postponement was because many of the participants would not be able to travel to Italy. A number of airlines have reduced or canceled flights to and from the country. Participants from 115 countries had signed up.

A spokesman said the postponement had nothing to do with the fact that the pope is suffering from a cold and was forced to skip a week-long Lent retreat near Rome.

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy stood at 34 on Sunday and the accumulative number of cases totaled nearly 1,700.

Headliners at the conference included Nobel economy prize winner Amartya Sen of India, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, as well as academics, business leaders and students from around the world.

Called “The Economy of Francesco” (Francis in Italian), it was to have included workshops and meetings with young people around the hill town in the central Umbria region that is the birthplace of St. Francis.

(This story has been corrected to add dropped word in first paragraph)

Reporting By Philip Pullella. Editing by Jane Merriman

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