- Maxime Mbanda resolved to go beyond his call of duty to support the already overwhelmed Italian healthcare system
- Mbanda is professionally a rugby star with Zebre in Parma in northern Italy
- But with sporing events currently suspended in the European country, the 27-year-old is now working as an ambulance driver
When the coronavirus outbreak metamorphosed to a full blown crisis in Italy and with no medical background, Maxine Mbanda was left pondering how best he would help.
Unlike the rest of Europe, Italy has been worst hit by the outbreak of COVID-19, with the country recording nearly 70,000 cases of infection, with close to 7,000 dying of the virus.
The surge in numbers of confirmed cases has seen the healthcare system overwhelmed, forcing the country into a lockdown in a bid to combat the spread of the epidemic.
With sporting events currently suspended, and with far more time on his hands, Mbanda was desperate to help out in whatever way he can.
His desire to support the healthcare system saw him become an ambulance driver, doing gruelling shifts in his hometown of Parma, northern Italy.
"When everything was cancelled in rugby, I wondered how I could help, even without medical expertise. I started eight days ago, without a day's break and with shifts of 12 or 13 hours. But faced with what I see in the infectious disease rooms, I tell myself that I can't be tired," he told AFP.
But owing to the fact that coronavirus is a highly infectious disease, the 27-year-old admits "fear is normal."
"Fear is normal. But there are little things that can be done safely that would give those on the front lines a half-hour or an hour's rest. For them, an hour is crucial," he conceded.
He, however, commits to continue helping beyond the call of duty.
"As long as I'm strong, I'll keep going. I'm here and I'm staying here," he says.
And having witnessed the horrific consequences of the virus first-hand, the rugby star is urging citizens to stay home and follow government guidelines to contain the spread of the disease.
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