OUR former sports editor has opened up about life under lockdown in Italy which has suffered the highest death rate of coronavirus patients in the world.

Former Stourbridge News reporter turned News Group sports editor Max Hall has lived in Genoa in north west Italy with his Italian wife Elsa since last June and the couple have been confined to their apartment for some weeks now.

They’ve been prohibited from venturing to public places apart from to collect essential food and medicine – but they were also officially quarantined briefly, which meant they could only leave home in the event of a medical emergency, after a work colleague of Elsa’s tested positive for COVID-19.

Neither have shown symptoms of the virus but with hundreds of deaths of coronavirus patients being reported daily – the country remains in lockdown in a desperate bid to try to stop the spread of deadly COVID-19.

Max, who writes articles remotely for a trade publisher based in Berlin, said: “We are only allowed out of our apartment for food shopping, vital work tasks - which neither apply to me or to my wife Elsa, who is a medical researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology private research institute and also working from home right now, or for urgent health reasons. We are not supposed to go out because of the risk of transmitting the infection in the country with the oldest demographic in Europe."

Dudley News:

When the couple did venture out of their old town apartment for supplies, after all shops except supermarkets and pharmacies had closed, the streets were almost abandoned and those that were out noticeably tried to avoid getting too close as they crossed paths in narrow mediaeval alleyways – Max said.

He added: “The supermarket was operating a one-in, one-out system but at least there has been no sign of stockpiling here.”

Max, aged 45, continued: “Elsa and I are not suffering ourselves. We are lucky to occupy what seems like a vast apartment after three-and-a-half years living in a two-room rabbit hutch in London and we both love board games.

“We also live in a golden age of on-demand TV so life's not too bad. However, the weather turned about a week ago and there is a pang of regret looking out of the window because I can't go out running in the sunshine on the historic harbour or play my weekly five-a-side.”

Both he and his wife are more worried about their elderly relatives, he said.

“Elsa has a big family in the south of Italy and my 80-something dad David who was a former pub landlord, is stuck in Colley Gate suffering from late-onset dementia and it’s a worry to think he has no option but to have contact twice daily with visitors who may be carrying the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“I would advise people to avoid all unnecessary human contact, rather like we are in Italy. That's not to say people should panic and they certainly shouldn't hoard goods people in greater need require, but after all the angry arguing about patriotism and whatnot during 'the Brexit years', perhaps those who really care about Britain should put the country first by self-isolating at home for as long as they can, helping with shopping for those unable to fetch their own or unable to go online and order it, and buying only what they need to get by.”