PARMA-based David Sisi is adopting a level-headed approach to the coronavirus outbreak that has forced Italy into lockdown and caused the PRO14 season to be suspended.
With positive tests hitting over 41,000 and the death toll now above 3,400, Italy is currently the European country most affected by the contagion.
For the past week, the Italian international and Zebre loose forward has largely been confined to the apartment he shares with his partner Anna and their dog.
“It’s a strange situation and the longer it goes on, the stranger it will become, I’m sure,” he said.
“People are still going about their day-to-day stuff as best they can. It’s incredibly quiet but not quite apocalyptic yet.
“I’m just coming back from a small hamstring injury, so I’ve been going up the road to meet the physios in the morning, to keep my rehab ticking over. Other than that, and taking the dog for a walk, I’ve been keeping to the house.
“I don’t mind being at home; it’s a nice place and we’re lucky we are very comfortable.
“I still sit outside in the sun having a coffee so the coronavirus hasn’t affected the weather. It’s not a total disaster.”
With Deliveroo still dropping off groceries, trips to the supermarket have been few and far between. But on the few occasions he has ventured out, Sisi says Italian shoppers have not gone as wild in the aisles as the Brits back home.
“The only panic buying that happened here was all the pasta and coffee sold out, very stereotypically Italian. I am happy to report there is plenty of bog roll in the shops over here,” he said.
A grade two hamstring tear has prevented Sisi, 27, from playing since the turn of the year – not that he’s missed much action, as Zebre have had their last three PRO14 games postponed due to Covid-19.
“All club activity has been halted,” he added. “We’re in this weird sort of limbo where we’re waiting for this to pass or to progress to a level where we can get things done again.
“We’ve been given individual training programmes to keep things ticking over but gyms and leisure centres have all been closed down.
“I’m reading books which I haven’t had much time to do before now. I’ve just picked up Ben Mercer’s book, Fringes: Life on the Edge of Professional Rugby. It’s really interesting especially as there are some parallels between his experiences and my own as he moved abroad too.”
Crucially, no one he knows or is close to has been become a victim of the virus. “The big concern is that we have got players with elderly family relatives in the area.
“Luckily no one has been directly affected as far as I am aware, although in Piacenza, a town near us that’s a bit closer to the centre of it all, there’s been a particular spike in cases and a few of the guys are from there.”
One silver lining is that Sisi may yet get to appear in the Six Nations and add to his nine Azzurri caps.
“Hopefully with the postponed games there’s an outside chance I might be able to squeeze my way back in when they’re rearranged.”