“LEARN from our mistakes. Don’t let the thousands of lives that have been lost go to waste”.

The haunting words of former Peebles resident Nadia Wong, on lockdown in Italy, the country hardest-hit by coronavirus.

This week reporter Hilary Scott video-interviewed Nadia, who left Peeblesshire to start a new life almost 20 years ago.

Raised in Peebles from the age of seven, Nadia has strong family roots in the town and calls it her “second home”.

The much-loved Italian restaurant Francos, nestled in the heart of Peebles, has been in her family for almost 50 years. But many locals will know Nadia from her time as the joint business owner of the Peebles-based Hair by Studio One.

Despite setting up home with her husband and children in Italy, Peebles still holds a special place in her heart, now more than ever.

Witnessing the horror of the invisible foe taking thousands of lives in Italy, Nadia doesn’t want the same for Britain, and says our chance to change it is now.

Italy has now banned any movement inside the country as a desperate measure to stem the spread of the virus.

It's day fifteen of lockdown for Nadia, but in the last three days she hasn’t been able to go outside. “What you’re going through right now is the hardest time,” she said. “It’s the transition and acceptance of what has had to happen. It’s the feeling of being trapped and imprisoned.

“Up until a few days ago we were still free to go out into open space on our own to go for a walk or a run, as long as we respected the social distance, but because so many people didn’t listen, we are now in full lockdown.

“Only one person is allowed to go out for supplies with a completed form to say why they are out. But people are still going out two or three times a day to get shopping.”

Nadia says Britain is following the same steps as Italy in terms of the restrictions imposed. “I’ve had the children home for a month already. It was about 10 days ago that all the bars and restaurants closed, and we went into lockdown two weeks ago but you could still go to the shop for supplies.”

However, escalated measures were put in place three days ago and police squads were checking documents and fining those outside without a valid excuse.

Nadia added: “If the situation doesn’t improve here soon, I’ve heard rumours that they will bring the military in and our supplies will be rationed. Not because there’s not enough food but because people are still not listening. They aren’t bad people. They are simply unaware of the part that they are playing. They simply don’t understand the implications of their actions.”

The Italian Army has started ferrying coffins from the northern city of Bergamo, the worst-hit city, to remote cremation sites because local morgues can’t cope with the rising toll of bodies.

Visibly upset as she recalled the eerie images of military trucks passing through the city, Nadia said: “There are just so many deaths so armies are transporting truck-loads of bodies to cremate them - it's just awful.

“It’s bad enough that people have lost their loved ones, but to have no funeral is just heartbreaking.”

The Prime Minister introduced the lockdown in Britain on Monday evening, but have measures been introduced in time to save the country from scenes such as those in Italy?

“I think the UK is doing the right thing. You’re doing it early so hopefully it’ll never reach this point,” said Nadia.

She tearfully urged us all to follow Government guidelines and ‘stay home’, adding: “Learn from our mistakes. We’re the country that’s been worst hit. Don’t let the thousands of lives that have been lost go to waste. Learn from us here in Italy.”