Samoan in Spain urges everyone to take pandemic seriously

A Samoan living in Spain has shared his experiences of living in the COVID-19-riddled country, emphasising the seriousness of the global pandemic.

Loveni Enari from Vaiala, who has lived in León for 20 years where he works as an English teacher, was interviewed by Auckland radio station 531pi’s Pacific Breakfast programme.

“The first thing that I’d like to get across to everyone is that it’s not funny,” he said.

Enari said he has been receiving memes making light of the situation over Whatsapp from friends in New Zealand.

“To us they were funny two weeks ago, and we laughed at them then,” the former journalist said.

“But now we’ve gone beyond that stage and it’s actually really serious.”

As of Friday, Spain had more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus than any other European country (117,710), with the death toll climbing to 10,935.

“At the beginning it was like… watching a beautiful car crash happening… like this is amazingly terrible, that was the first week,” Enari said, noting it felt more serious as cases got closer to home.

 “Everyone has always seen it as ‘okay it’s something that’s happening in China.’ And then it was ‘okay, it’s happening in Italy, or it’s happening somewhere else’, until it starts happening where you are.”

The country has been under strict lockdown measures for three weeks, and Enari said most of his English class anticipate restrictions running until mid-May.

“In Italy and France, England, Ireland etc, in New Zealand, you guys can all go out for an hour to do exercise; we’re not allowed to,” he said.

Thus, Enari tries to make the most of his trips to the supermarket, the only time people in Spain are allowed to leave their homes.

“I’m someone that’s used to doing exercise all the time, I go to the local mountains and I walk and I run,” he said.

“So for someone who is used to doing that, it seriously is dangerous mentally – last week I had a bit of an episode or whatever you want to call it.

“You realise that we’re in this for the long run it seems and we’ve gotta somehow try and take it easy.”

Enari hopes both New Zealand and Samoa get lucky through their isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and avoid the wrath of COVID-19:

“Especially in Samoa… all the health issues that there are there and the lack of good facilities at our hospital, it will go through Samoa like a cyclone.”

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