Messi pleads 'stay at home' amid coronavirus outbreak
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi took to Instagram on Saturday to ask people to stay home as a precautionary measure to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus.

"Now is the time to be responsible and stay at home. These are complicated days for everyone," Messi wrote in Spanish in his post, as translated by the BBC.

Reports published Saturday suggest the Spanish government will declare a state of emergency, locking down the country and requesting that its citizens stay home.

With more than 140,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, social gatherings and sporting events around the globe have been postponed or canceled as experts stress the importance of social distancing.

"We are worried about what is happening and we want to help by putting ourselves in the shoes of those who are getting the worst of it, either because it has directly affected them, their family, or their friends, or because they are working on the front lines to combat it in hospitals and healthcare centers," Messi continued in his post.

"I wish them all plenty of strength," he added. "Health must always come first. This is an exceptional situation and the instructions of both healthcare organizations and public authorities must be followed. This is the only way it can be combated effectively."

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Son días complicados para todo el mundo. Vivimos preocupados por lo que está ocurriendo y queremos ayudar poniéndonos en el lugar de aquellos que peor lo están pasando, o bien porque les afectó directamente a ellos o sus familiares y amigos, o porque están trabajando en primera línea para combatirlo en hospitales y centros de salud. Quiero enviarles mucha fuerza a todos ellos. La salud debe ser siempre lo primero. Es un momento excepcional y hay que seguir las indicaciones tanto de las organizaciones sanitarias como de las autoridades públicas. Sólo así podremos combatirlo de manera efectiva. Es el momento de ser responsable y quedarse en casa, además es perfecto para disfrutar ese tiempo con los tuyos que no siempre se puede tener. Un abrazo y ojalá consigamos darle vuelta a esta situación cuanto antes. #QuedateEnCasa #StayAtHome

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Messi pleads 'stay at home' amid coronavirus outbreak
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