Athlete living in the middle of Italy’s outbreak

INTERNATIONAL athlete, and former Clarence Valley resident Morgan Pilley has had a first-hand look at how the COVID-19 virus has spread throughout the world.

Mr Pilley, who competes in endurance events internationally, is based in the rural town of Arrone in Italy, around 100km to the north of the capital Rome, which has been overrun by infections by the disease.

The country on Monday had recorded almost 30,000 infections by the disease, with more than 2,000 dead.

<< Follow this link to stay up to date with the latest coronavirus information specific to the Clarence Valley >>

With the country on lockdown, Mr Pilley said that Australia should follow similar measures to ensure it the experience isn't repeated.

"It's important that people take it seriously, but remain calm," he said.

"Conditions are strict here, but most people adhere to them. There's no leaving your house without good reason, supermarkets are letting people in one at a time, but it's just work, emergencies or groceries.

"You can go for a walk, but most people aren't leaving their houses."

Former Yamba athlete Morgan Pilley at his home in Arrone, Italy, talks about the country's lockdown due to COVID-19.
Former Yamba athlete Morgan Pilley at his home in Arrone, Italy, talks about the country's lockdown due to COVID-19.

With reports of an infection in his village, he said people were first upset at the lateness of the lockdown, but now understand how difficult the situation is.

"Italy has an ageing population with grandparents usually living with family, so everyone is aware of the risk," he said.

"Economically, it will be bad for the next few months, but health comes first.

"People are still relatively positive, but still worried, of course. There are a lot of unknowns."

Mr Pilley was due to travel to Qatar for a mountain bike race, but the flight was cancelled at the last minute.

"My racing is off for at least the next few months," he said. "Races in April and May re being cancelled internationally.

"I can still train, legally, as it's my work, but it's also relatively safe as I can go out my door and into the mountains without coming into contact with anyone.

"I'm maybe looking at June or July to resume my (running) race calendar, but it's an unknown."

Keeping an eye on events in Australia through family and social media, he said the toilet paper issue was quite amusing due to the Italian's use of bidets, but warned that he hoped Australia heeded the lessons his new country had learned.

"Hopefully Australia places strict restrictions sooner rather than later, it's very much worth it," he said.

"Much better to lockdown now and practice social distancing."

In the meantime, he said there were so many unknowns regarding how the outbreak would go; the most important thing was to be patient.

"(The lockdown) is important and people understand, and it certainly should be taken seriously but calmly," he said.

Former Yamba athlete Morgan Pilley at his home in Arrone, Italy, talks about the country's lockdown due to COVID-19.
Former Yamba athlete Morgan Pilley at his home in Arrone, Italy, talks about the country's lockdown due to COVID-19.