Pope Francis warned the Italians to not let the guard down against the coronavirus or COVID-19 as now the infection rates have decreased and urged them to abide by the rules of the government on social distancing and wearing masks.
Francis, while making an address to hundreds of people in St. Peter's Square for the Sunday blessing, reacted to the applause that happened as he stated their presence is a sign indicating Italy passing the acute phase of the pandemic.
Pope Francis Warns Italians of Coronavirus Pandemic
"Be careful. Don't cry victory too soon," he cautioned them, departing from his prepared text. Nearly 34,000 people have died in Italy from the coronavirus, the fourth-highest toll in the world after the United States, Britain, and Brazil. The number of daily deaths has fallen from nearly 1,000 several months ago to 72 on Saturday. Italy entered the latest phase of an easing of restriction on June 3, when people were allowed to travel between regions again.
However, some Italians, particularly young people, have flouted remaining rules on social distancing and wearing masks in public places. Authorities have warned of the danger of a second wave. "We still have to follow the rules," Francis said. "Thank God, we are leaving the worst part, but always by obeying the rules that the authorities have stipulated," he said.
Francis said no one should forget that coronavirus was still claiming many victims in other countries. He said he has heard that on Friday in one country, a person had died every minute. "Terrible," he said, without naming the country.
(With agency inputs)