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Clay figurine of Mary, wearing a protective mask.

An artist in Italy has reimagined the traditional Christmas nativity scene for the coronavirus age.

At Genny Di Virgilio's workshop in Naples, his nativity figurines gaze at the baby Jesus from behind protective masks.

And the characters are even standing at a safe distance, especially the elderly. Only baby Jesus remains unchanged. Too big a symbol of love and hope to be tainted by the shadow of the virus, says Di Virgilio.

Di Virgilio is known in Italy for peppering the traditional manger scene with current events. So, of course, this year, COVID-19 took centre stage.

"In the nativity scene we have reflected that our characters are always in 1700s fashion, but just as we must wear face masks and respect safe distance, this year, the nativity will also have these two characteristics," he explains.