Tall Black Isaac Fotu has urged New Zealanders to take the recent measures taken to combat the spread of coronavirus seriously after returning home from Italy.
Fotu, who plays professional basketball for Treviso in the Italian Serie A basketball league, has recently returned home from one of the hardest hit parts of Europe, where the entire city is in virtual lockdown because of the pandemic.
The 26-year-old is now in self-isolation in his family's home where he will see out the mandatory 14 days of isolation imposed by the government over the weekend.
"It was crazy," he told Radio Sport Breakfast of the situation in Northern Italy. "It definitely happened really fast. It started about a month ago. We heard some stuff but no one really took it too seriously.
"And then two weeks ago they said we were going to play games without fans behind closed doors, which was pretty strange too. But I don't think they took it seriously; people were still going out. And then about a week ago it really got crazy.
"You weren't allowed out of your house – only just to go to the supermarket or go to work. It really crept up on us and it got really crazy. I got out of there while I could. I was one of the last let out of Italy to come home and get in self-isolation."
After landing home in New Zealand, Fotu called on the rest of the country to take the threat of coronavirus seriously, tweeting: "I've seen first hand how bad this thing can get. I'll see y'all in 2 weeks I'm doing this thing right. Let's all do the right thing and protect our loved ones and our beautiful country."
He applauded the response from the New Zealand government but said it is important that everyone follows the measures properly in order to avoid a similar situation in Italy.
"I think it's good that they've started early with these precautions but I think it's important like I said in my tweet that everyone does it properly. Because if people are still going out they could spread it if they do have it. And that was a big problem in Italy. People were still meeting up and going to dinner and doing social gatherings and that's when it spread like crazy.
"The videos [on the internet] aren't exaggerations at all. It got really crazy. To go anywhere you had to go through military stops, you had to show a piece of paper saying why you're travelling and what was the purpose of your travel. And you can get fined if you're just walking the streets for no reason. It was really strange driving to practice and there was no one on the streets."
Currently most of the country's sports have been affected by the pandemic, with competitions like Super Rugby being suspended for the foreseeable future while even domestic leagues like cricket's Plunket Shield have been cancelled due to the heightened risk of players spending time in areas such as airports, planes and hotels.
Fotu said it might not be worth the risk for sports to go ahead even without fans.
"I'm not too sure. Obviously the population is a lot higher in Italy but I don't know if it's worth playing without fans. We'll see how it goes."
In the meantime, Fotu will spend the next couple of weeks in his specially made up self-isolation room away from everyone else in his family.
"My mum actually set up a little self isolation room in our house away from everyone," he said. "It's got everything I need really – Play Station, TV, table, couch and a little work out area on the deck so I don't really have to come in contact with any of my family. Which is strange but I think it's a necessity that we have to take."
"That was the strangest part," he added about not being able to have any contact with his family. "My dad picked me up and I didn't even get to give him a handshake or anything which was very strange. And also I always give my grandma a hug when I come home but that's definitely off the table with the elderly being the most susceptible to it. So I have to wait a while til I do that. So it was definitely strange."
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So when can he finally hug Nana?
"That would probably have to wait another three weeks. I want to be safe. But I'll probably stay inside in isolation for another 12 days or so. I got in yesterday. I want to do the whole isolation."
Fotu says he isn't showing any symptoms associated with Covid-19 but is aware that you don't have to be symptomatic to carry the virus.
New Zealand has had eight cases of the virus so far, prompting the government to place restrictions on gatherings of 500 or more people and requiring travellors coming back into the country to self-isolate for 14 days.