Monterenzio, Bologna : “I miss Dubai. I would like to come home and meet my parents and siblings,” says Thomas Marco Sidoli in a telephone interview to Gulf News from Italy.
The 21-year-old, studying in a university in Italy’s Bologna province, is living under quarantine enforced by Italy’s government.
On Monday, March 9, the government of Italy, in an unprecedented move enforced travel restrictions across the country in a furious bid to stop the rising number of coronavirus infections in the country.
Take this: As of March 10, according to numbers shared to Thomas by the Italian government, there were a total of 10,149 people in Italy infected with the virus.
Thomas lives in Monterenzio, up in the hills, 220 meters above sea level and 15 minutes’ drive from Bologna. Montererenzio is a city part of the Bologna province. His parents are residents of UAE. Thomas himself studied in a Dubai school for several years.
Thomas' parents live in the UAE. His father, Paulo Gagliardi is a businessman based in Dubai. Thomas studied in Dubai for four years and went to Raffles World Academy. His mother, Samantha Carletti is a housewife. He has two siblings in Dubai.
Currently, Thomas is studying for business management at the CSU Global University in Monterenzio.
A day in Bologna under government led quarantine
“Quiet with no socialising whatsoever. It is me, my fiancé and my two German Shepherds at home right now.”
“The only visits I make is to my grandparents' home. They are 81 years old and need my help to shop for groceries and other basic essentials. I am allowed that. Plus I need to shop for basic essentials in the house.”
Who keeps a check?
Thomas said the government makes random checks. “If anyone is out on the street they ask questions as to why we are outside. The reason, as said, has to be concrete.”
Restaurants have been given time off. “They have to be shut from 6 pm until 6 am. I don’t know why even they are open during the day. No one is going there. Parks are empty, malls are empty. It is a ghost town.”
Do you miss home?
“Indeed I do. I wish I could be in Dubai right now and spend time with my family. But my responsibility right now is to take care of my fiancé, grandparents, my dogs and of course myself.
Thomas’ grandparents are both cancer survivors and are at high risk of contracting the virus. “My duty is first towards protecting them and keeping them safe from the virus. Their house is a kilometre away from mine and I run errands for them. My grandfather is usually home-bound so he is not missing anything under the quarantine. But my grand-mother likes to go out for walks every day. She is missing it a lot. But I have told her it is for the best that she stays at home.”
Thomas and his fiancé spend early part of the day attending online tutorials. They also cook, clean the house, do the laundry, take care of their pets. “We play some online games and watch movies and television at home.”
My fiancé chose to stay with me when the government announced the quarantine. She did not want me to stay alone. But I know she now misses not being able to meet her family who live just a block away.
“We are not allowed any visitors in the house. If you are visting someone it has to be for a good reason. I am only allowed to visit my grandparents because of their situation. There are no social meets happening at all.
Does the situation depress him in any way?
“Not at all. I know that this is for the good of all of us. In Codogno for example, one of the towns where the virus started to spread, there have been no new cases according to information we have received. This has been due to the quarantine efforts by the government. So I am happy there is some positivity coming out of all this.”
Have you done a medical check recently?
“No. I know I am fine. The hospitals are full at the moment with patients. It is not advisable for people under quarantine to visit a hospital as you could be at risk of contracting the virus. We have been given emergency numbers to call in case of symptoms. That is all.”
What next ?
“Just hoping for the best and the situation comes under control. I miss my family in UAE and want to see them soon.”