Coronavirus Cancels Mass in Italy Days Before the Start of Lent

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Currents News Staff

The streets in Milan, Italy are empty. Stores are closed and supermarket shelves have been cleaned out. 

Cafés are vacant too, all as cases of the coronavirus surge from just three on Feb. 21 to more than 200 to date, forcing local governments to ban public gatherings.

Those gatherings include Mass. Catholics in northern Italy won’t be allowed to go to church during this lenten season.  The quarantine was issued in the hopes of stopping the spread of the virus across the country, where at least five people have died.

At the airport in Milan, travelers are getting their temperatures checked before entering security lines. Novel coronavirus cases have been spreading quickly outside China’s borders.

‘Me and my mother, parents and friends are worried, very worried,” said one traveler. 

There’s also concern in South Korea, where cases have also surged to more than 830, prompting a national “red alert.”  

A religious group is at the heart of the spike in cases there, where hundreds have contracted the illness. A former member says the nature of the group makes it easy for a virus to spread.

“They’re packed together like sardines in one area,” said  Duhyen Kim, a former church member. “They are forced to sit line in line and literally, your knees will be touching the other person’s knee.”

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its coronavirus tally, saying there are now at least 53 confirmed cases. That number is up 18 since Feb. 21.  The new cases are all from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, whose passengers — recently released from quarantine in Japan — have now come home.