There have been concerns that Pope Francis has been getting too close to large crowds of visitors, risking coronavirus infection.
But the pontiff stayed a safe distance from well-wishers at his weekly general audience on Wednesday, just two days after the Vatican announced that four members of the Swiss guards had tested positive for COVID-19.
"I would like to, as I usually do, go down and get closer to greet you. But with the new regulations, it is better if we keep a distance. I also greet sick people from here. You are sitting prudently distant as you should do. But it often happens that when I go down, everybody gets close and piles up. And it's a problem because there is a risk of infection."
The 83-year-old resumed his weekly audiences in September after a six-month break because of the virus, which has killed more than 36,000 people in Italy.
However, with infections rising again, there was concern over the risks involved.
But despite his comments, the pope, who does not wear a mask at the audiences, was also seen shaking hands and greeting members of the clergy at the end of the service.