Idris Elba has said he thinks the world should take a week of quarantine every year to “remember this time” once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
The star, who along with his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba has recovered after contracting coronavirus, said it had been a “scary” time.
As new UN Goodwill Ambassadors, the couple are helping to raise $200m (£160m) to support rural farmers trying to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, in addition to an initial $40m in funding from the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Speaking about the virus and recovery, Elba – who also took part in the global One World: Together At Home event on Saturday – told the Associated Press their cases had been “very mild”.
On lockdown, he said: “I think that the world should take a week of quarantine every year just to remember this time. Remember each other. I really do.
“I think it’s… other species use it. It’s called hibernation. But it does remind you that the world doesn’t tick on your time.”
The British actor, star of series including The Wire and Luther, said he and his wife were lucky not to suffer serious symptoms of the virus after testing positive in March.
“It’s been about six weeks from the beginning to this point right now for us, where it’s essentially our lives turned around,” he said. “Definitely scary and unsettling and nervous. And I think that’s been like a real collected world experience.
“You know, everyone’s sort of feeling the way we have been feeling, but it has definitely been sort of just a complete upheaval.”
Dhowre Elba, a model, said: “But thankfully we were extremely lucky to be able to get very mild cases of COVID and the outpouring of support and all of the people who have reached out to us, it’s just been overwhelming.”
The couple have been recovering in New Mexico, where Elba was filming when he became ill, but plan to return to London as soon as they can get a flight.
The actor said he had to miss his six-year-old son’s birthday because of the lockdown, but is “hoping to see him as soon as I can”.
“We’ve been fortunate,” he added. “We have been staying in a lovely place that’s been very comfortable for the time. But we’re looking forward to going home.”
Speaking about the UN fund for farmers, Elba said people in rural and poor areas are likely to suffer more in the pandemic.
Both Elba and his wife have roots in Africa, as Elba’s parents are from Sierra Leone and Ghana, while Dhowre Elba is of Somali descent.
Last year, they spoke of their pride at being the “first African couple” to be featured on the cover of British Vogue.
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In December, the couple visited Sierra Leone with the UN to see how IFAD is assisting people in the country.
“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, social distancing is almost laughable,” 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,” Dhowre Elba said.
“The economic fallout of this pandemic is being overlooked and while health, you know, is so important at the moment, we are dealing with a health pandemic, we don’t want people to forget about what comes after that.”