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Coronavirus could close churches with Sunday Mass being live-streamed to worshippers

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said chirches could be closed (Picture: AP)

The coronavirus pandemic could shutdown churches in the UK, with Sunday Mass being live-streamed to worshippers at home, according to the Catholic leader in England and Wales.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols told BBC's Radio 4's Today programme there were plans to stop people attending church.

He said this would be done to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has killed 21 people in the UK, with 1,143 being infecting and 19 recovering, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: "We are preparing for a time when the churches should not be used to gather big numbers of people together, so we might come to an end of the celebration of Mass or other services."

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He added: "The presence of the church and the space that it offers will be very important in the coming months.

"Even if the priest is there with one helper, we can stream them and people can join in from home and gather if they wish on a Sunday to follow the mass and say their prayers together.”

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A man wearing a mask stands in an underground train in London (Picture: Getty)

Some churches have already tried to stop the spread of the infection by removing public holy water, stopping people from drinking wine from chalices and replacing handshakes with bowing.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols stressed the Catholic Church would play an important role in the coming months even if it had to close to the public.

Mass gatherings are expected to be banned in the UK from next week as the Government looks to implement more extreme measures in the fight against Covid-19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had faced criticism for not taking such actions, despite similar steps being taken by other European countries as the pandemic worsens.

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Emergency legislation bringing in beefed-up powers will be published next week and there could also be a move towards more people working from home, a Whitehall source said.

The ten patients who died in the UK since Friday were being cared for in Buckinghamshire, Sandwell & West Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Barts, London, north Middlesex and Chester, NHS England said.

A number of the patients, who were over 60, had underlying health conditions.