Former Silver Fern Catherine Tuivaiti and family living through lock down in Italy
By Catherine Tuivaiti
Former Silver Fern Cat (Latu) Tuivaiti is living in lockdown in Italy and writes about what is happening from this country in the eye of the Covid19 storm:
I came to Italy after the birth of my first son, to join my husband Jimmy. Sebastian (or Bash as we call him) was 7 weeks old when we left NZ and we were excited to start a pretty new journey. Me as a first time mum and my husband and I living together after 5 years pursuing our sporting journeys in different countries. Learning to live together was what I thought would be the hardest part.
The coronavirus landed in Italy shortly after we did. The first positive case was January 31st and it has progressed ridiculously fast since then. We were quarantined/shutdown in Feb because we’re so close to Milan (where the breakout happened) they closed most businesses and schools etc. and then when the lockdown was implemented, they closed everything. So before the nationwide lockdown we were already in quarantine for a week or so.
As I sit here, mid March, we are already in a full blown, national scale lock down. Initially they asked everyone to be wary. Wash hands, keep distance, and don’t gather. A fairly loose attempt to make sure no one else got infected. The news leaked of a possible lockdown, and around ten thousand residents of the ‘redzone’ fled the area overnight to their hometowns and neighbouring towns. Panic spread. Covid-19 has spread uncontrollably since and now we are all completely quarantined.
The ‘red zone’ was the name given to areas that needed to shut schools/cafes/restaurants. Lombardia is the region that had the first confirmed cases and deaths and Milan is in Lombardia. We are one of the surrounding regions so we were added to the redzone. We are 2 hours from Milan in Parma but the entire country is ‘redzone’ now. Full lock down. Everything is closed all over the country.
No leaving the house unless you are on the way to supermarket or pharmacy. My husbands rugby competition was put on hold. (These guys play in the snow so we knew this was serious). We can only drive to rugby fields and go to the furtherest field to get baby outside in the sun. We don’t have a lot in our apartment. Its the safest way to be outside. Jim gets to do a bit of training too but we aren’t allowed to go to the fields as much as we want.
The initial hysteria of bulk buying has thankfully passed. The shelves are now fully stocked and there is far more order. Granted there is only one person who can shop per family, and there is a line outside to avoid a crowded supermarket, but it is more about safety, not depleted supplies. You can be checked whenever about where you’re going and what you’re doing outside and Italian locals are hitting each other up too. Old ladies out the window yelling at you telling you to go home lol
This is a terrifying time. The rest of the world is slowly following suit and closing schools, university’s, work places and borders including NZ. My wish for our beautiful kiwis is to respect that something is actually happening here. The islands won’t cope if it gets there and there’s lots of old people there too.
My little family and I are in the middle of the worst hit country alongside China. Italy used to be second fiddle to China, but with almost 500 deaths in one day, we've just passed China for the most fatalities and that’s not a nice place to be. Facilities and medical personnel are stetched to capacity. Italy’s overwhelmed with the critical cases and carers are literally choosing who to save. Imagine being in that position! What’s happening here is that it’s so bad that they’re just letting people die because they can’t physically place them anywhere. If they have to chose between an elderly person and someone else to help, they’ll choose someone else. No funerals allowed here either. Just cremation straight away.
“You’re all overreacting”
“I’m not 70, I’ll be sweet”
“NZ is pretty small, it won’t get us here”
I see so many comments like this from kiwis. When did we become too cool to be concerned? Aotearoa is my home, and we need to do better. The same with our pacific brothers and sisters. We need to wrap our heads around it. You may need to be indoors for a few weeks. Prepare mentally as well as physically. Learn from what’s happening around the world.
Coming home obviously crossed our minds, but we knew it would put not only our own little family at risk, but also our family and friends in NZ. The best decision for everyone, although heartbreaking, is to stay and quarantine. We are doing our part. The Government are doing theirs. You should do yours. Keep calm and follow the new rules.
Check on our mates. Our parents. Our grandparents. We’re all in this.