DHL Stormers centre and qualified doctor Jamie Roberts is leading by example in the frontlines of the fight against the Corona Virus.
The 97-Test midfielder finds himself in Cape Town with the DHL Stormers during the global Covid-19 pandemic, but he is making a contribution back home by making a flat of his in Cardiff available to the National Health Service.
He explained that given the increase in cancellations due to travel restrictions, he felt it was the logical thing to do and do his part to support the healthcare services that will be under increasing pressure in the coming weeks.
“A big deal has been made of it but it isn’t a massive gesture really. I have got a flat in Cardiff and I had a few cancellations on AirBnB. This is a crucial time in the UK, the death rate is increasing and the number of infections is increasing at an exponential rate. You talk about flattening the curve and that is for the healthcare system, you don’t want the healthcare system to get overloaded.
“There are going to be NHS staff out there who will want to not be travelling from the hospitals back to their homes every night of the week, purely because of the fact that they don’t want to put their families at risk, because healthcare workers will be high-risk.
“I had a free flat and just offered it to the NHS really and it was great, managed to get a doctor in there on Friday, so it is about mobilising resources and I would encourage anyone else who has resources to do so. I’m sure there are loads of people out there who have properties who have had cancellations as well and if they have got a spare resource that they can help the health services with then the more the merrier,” he told thestormers.co.za.
Roberts will not be heading back to Wales, although he remains in close contact with his family, and will continue an individual training programme with the DHL Stormers.
“It is going to be difficult for me to go home, because I wouldn’t be allowed back in South Africa with the laws as they are governing flights coming into South Africa from high-risk zones, which the UK is.
“So that is challenging in itself, but we have Skype and I chat to my parents quite often. If anything I wouldn’t want to put them at risk if I did fly home, my dad has just turned 70, it is the same with my partner as well, she wouldn’t want to put her parents at risk. We have the weather here, good food, so we will probably stick around in South Africa,” he said.
The focus for Roberts and his DHL Stormers teammates is to ensure that they are as sharp and fit as possible, should the season resume in the future.
“Whether we play rugby again this season remains to be seen, as professional athletes we will train as well as we can, stay in good shape and when called upon to produce the goods again on the field we will.
“It is a tough situation for everyone out there, as sports people we are having to miss training and practice social distancing, but there are people dying which puts that into perspective,” he said.
Roberts encouraged all South Africans to make a special effort in limiting the damage of the virus at this fairly early stage.
“I think South Africa has got a wonderful opportunity over the next week or two to really take this thing seriously. It is difficult for people to take it seriously until the numbers really increase, but we have seen what has happened in the UK, the US and Europe I think it is clear to see what is happening in those countries and the difference you can make.
“Act like you have the virus, limit contact, keep space from people, wash your hands and don’t put yourself in social situations if you don’t have to,” Roberts added.