'Caged' pope delivers address via internet amid coronavirus

It is the first time the pontiff has skipped giving the blessing and reading an address from the window since his election in 2013, apart from times when he was traveling outside Rome.

He did however briefly visit the window to wave to a mere several hundred people in the huge square.

Pope Francis said he was close in prayer to those suffering in the coronavirus epidemic, and those who are caring for them.

Italy has imposed a virtual lockdown across a swathe of its wealthy north, including the financial capital Milan, in its latest attempt to contain a growing outbreak of coronavirus.