Italian rugby player Maxime Mbanda becomes volunteer ambulance driver - in pics

Mbanda urged people to take the pandemic seriously after witnessing the damage it can cause

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Italian international rugby player Maxime Mbanda is on the frontline in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, having become a volunteer ambulance driver in Parma.

With the situation in Italy extremely serious, Mbanda decided to join the fight against the disease, becoming an ambulance driver with other volunteers from the Yellow Cross in Parma – one of the areas most affected by the outbreak.

"When everything was cancelled in rugby, I wondered how I could help, even without medical expertise," Mbanda, who plays for Zebre Rugby, was quoted as saying by AFP.

"I found the Yellow Cross, which had a transport service for medicine and food for the elderly."

After delivering masks, food and prescriptions, the 26-year-old forward started transferring patients.

"I found myself transferring positive patients from one local hospital to another. I help with the stretcher or if there are patients to be carried from a wheelchair. I also hold the oxygen," he added.

Mbanda urged people across the world to take the pandemic seriously, having witnessed the damage it causes first hand.

"If people saw what I see in the hospitals, there wouldn't be a queue in front of the supermarkets anymore," he said.

"They would think two, three or four times before leaving home, even to go running.

"What I see are people of all ages, on respirators, on oxygen, doctors and nurses on 20 or 22-hour shifts, not sleeping one minute of the day and just trying to get some rest the next day."