21 April 2020
Idris Elba says he and his wife had their lives "turned around" after they became infected with the new coronavirus.
The two only had mild symptoms after getting infected. Yet the British actor called the experience "definitely scary and unsettling and nervous."
"You know, everyone's sort of feeling the way we have been feeling," he told The Associated Press (AP).
But Elba feels that there are life lessons to be learned, and the health crisis shows that the world does not move on your time.
"I think that the world should take a week of quarantine every year just to remember this time. Remember each other. I really do," he said.
The actor and his wife, model Sabrina Elba, spoke last week as they began working with the United Nations on a project. Its aim is to lessen the effects of COVID-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus -- on farmers in rural areas.
"People forget that 80 percent of the poor population live in these rural areas." Sabrina Elba said. "What we are really worried about at the moment, and why we are launching this fund is that those people are being forgotten."
In their new positions as U.N. Goodwill Ambassadors, Elba and his wife joined with the Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to launch the new $40 million fund. IFAD hopes to raise up to $200 million more from governments around the world.
The actor believes people in rural and poor areas are likely to suffer more during the coronavirus pandemic.
"If you imagine being in a village where no one even knows the name of your village or your population, and that you live in a slum where there is one room and six of you live in it," he said. "Social distancing is almost laughable."
Both Elba and his wife have roots in Africa. His parents are from Sierra Leone and Ghana. Sabrina Elba's parents are from Somalia. The Elbas went to Sierra Leone in December to see how IFAD has helped people there.
Idris said he was especially concerned about what the pandemic could do in African countries already suffering economically.
"We have to think about the forward planning," about what the bad effects may be, he said.
The two have been recovering in the western United States, where the actor was filming when he got sick. Elba said he had to miss his 6-year-old son's birthday because of shelter-in-place orders but he is hoping to see the boy as soon as he can.
He added that he and his wife have been lucky. "We have been staying in a lovely place that's been very comfortable for the time. But we're looking forward to going home."
I'm Alice Bryant.
The Associated Press reported this story. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
mild - adj. not strong in action or effect
symptom - n. a change in the body or mind which indicates that a disease is present
lesson - n. something learned through experience
quarantine - n. the situation of being kept away from others to prevent a disease from spreading
fund - n. an amount of money that is used for a special purpose
pandemic - n. an occurrence in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people over a wide area
slum - n. an area where poor people live and the buildings are in bad condition
comfortable - adj. not causing any physically unpleasant feelings