Barely 24 hours after Pope Francis prayed for coronavirus sufferers in Italy, the Catholic leader has reportedly taken ill and cancelled an event at a Rome basilica.

The UK Mirror reported that the pontiff prayed for coronavirus sufferers on Ash Wednesday while mask free and even took time to shake hands and kiss worshippers including a child in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

According to UK Mirror, the popeö appeared to have a cold and spoke with a slightly hoarse voice at his general audience on Wednesday and coughed during an afternoon Ash Wednesday service in a Rome church.

Pope showed solidarity with Coronavirus patients amid the alarming outbreak in Italy while speaking during the mass of St Peter’s Square.

He said: “I wish, again, to express my closeness to those who are ill with coronavirus and to health-care workers who are caring for them.”

After falling ill, the Vatican said on Thursday that the Pope is carrying out the rest of his schedule in his residence,

“Because of a slight indisposition, he preferred to stay inside Santa Marta,” the Vatican said, referring to the guest house where the 83-year-old pontiff lives.

All other commitments will go ahead regularly,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said

In Italy, the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto are locked down, following the report over 500 cases and 14 deaths from coronavirus, also known as Covid-19.