Soccer Game Attended by 40,000 Fans Likely Made This Italian City a Coronavirus Epicenter


(ROME) — It was a biggest soccer diversion in Atalanta’s story and a third of Bergamo’s race done a brief outing to Milan’s famed San Siro Stadium.

Nearly 2,500 fans of visiting Spanish bar Valencia also trafficked to that Champions League match.

More than a month later, experts are indicating to a Feb. 19 diversion as one of a biggest reasons since Bergamo has turn one of a epicenters of a coronavirus pestilence — a “biological bomb” was a approach one respiratory dilettante put it — and since 35% of Valencia’s group became infected.

The match, that internal media have dubbed “Game Zero,” was hold dual days before a initial box of locally transmitted COVID-19 was reliable in Italy.

“We were mid-February so we didn’t have a resources of what was happening,” Bergamo Mayor Giorgio Gori pronounced this week during a live Facebook discuss with a Foreign Press Association in Rome. “If it’s loyal what they’re observant that a pathogen was already present in Europe in January, afterwards it’s really illusive that 40,000 Bergamaschi in a stands of San Siro, all together, exchanged a pathogen between them. As is probable that so many Bergamaschi that night got together in houses, bars to watch a compare and did a same.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t have known. No one knew a pathogen was already here,” a mayor added. “It was inevitable.”

Less than a week after a game, a initial cases were reported in a range of Bergamo.

At about a same time in Valencia, a publisher who trafficked to a compare became a second chairman putrescent in a region, and it didn’t take prolonged before people who were in hit with him also had a virus, as did Valencia fans who were during a game.

While Atalanta announced a initial certain box Tuesday for goalkeeper Marco Sportiello, Valencia pronounced some-more than a third of a patrol got infected, “despite a despotic measures adopted by a club” after a compare in Milan.

As of Tuesday, scarcely 7,000 people in a range of Bergamo had tested certain for COVID-19 and some-more than 1,000 people had died from a pathogen — creation Bergamo a many lethal range in all of Italy for a pandemic. The Valencia segment had some-more than 2,600 people infected.

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Luca Lorini, a conduct of a complete caring section during a Pope John XXIII sanatorium in Bergamo, now has 88 patients underneath his caring with a coronavirus; not including many some-more in other tools of a hospital.

“I’m certain that 40,000 people hugging and kissing any other while station a centimeter detached — 4 times, since Atalanta scored 4 goals (the final outcome was 4-1) — was really a outrageous accelerator for contagion,” Lorini told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

“Right now we’re during war. When assent time comes, we can assure we we will go and see how many of a 40,000 people who went to a diversion became infected,” Lorini added. “Right now we have other priorities.”

Silvio Brusaferro, a conduct of Italy’s Superior Institute of Health, pronounced over a weekend during a nightly nationally televised lecture by a polite insurance group that a diversion was “one of a hypotheses” being evaluated as a source of a predicament in Bergamo.

“It’s positively an research that can be made,” Brusaferro said.

By final week, Bergamo’s tomb became so impressed by a series of passed that troops trucks began transporting bodies to a adjacent segment for cremation.

Italy remained a European nation with a many cases, scarcely 70,000, and with roughly 7,000 deaths — a many worldwide and some-more than twice as many as China.

Spain is a subsequent nation in Europe with a many cases, scarcely 48,000, and it has surpassed China in a series of deaths with some-more than 3,400.

More than 435,000 people worldwide have been putrescent and a series of passed sealed in on 20,000, according to a using count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Overall, some-more than 100,000 have recovered.

For many people, a new coronavirus causes amiable or assuage symptoms, such as heat and cough that transparent adult in dual to 3 weeks. For some, generally comparison adults and people with existent health problems, it can means some-more serious illness, including pneumonia and death.

The central assemblage for a Feb. 19 diversion was 45,792 — a “home” record for Atalanta, a tiny bar creation a entrance in Europe’s tip bar competition.

Atalanta captain Alejandro “Papu” Gómez told Argentine daily Olé it was “terrible” to have played that game.

“It’s a city of 120,000 people and that day (40,000) went to a San Siro,” a Argentine said. “It was a ancestral compare for Atalanta, something unique. To give we an idea, my mother took 3 hours to get to Milan, when that outing routinely takes 40 minutes.”

The diversion was played in Milan since Atalanta’s track in Bergamo didn’t accommodate a mandate set by European soccer ruling physique UEFA.

Before a match, Valencia fans openly roamed around Milan and collected during some of a city’s plazas, including a Piazza del Duomo, celebration and chanting group songs.

Looking back, a conditions for pathogen contamination were high, with thousands of people entertainment but most regard — during a time when a conflict in Europe wasn’t nonetheless famous — and afterwards roving behind home. Nearly 30 busloads of fans done a 60-kilometer (37-mile) outing from Bergamo to Milan.

The dusk before a match, there was no amicable enmity as officials from both clubs mingled and exchanged gifts and handshakes during a celebration cooking offering by Atalanta.

“I have listened a lot (of theories), I’ll contend mine: Feb. 19, 40,000 Bergamaschi went to San Siro for Atalanta-Valencia,” Fabiano di Marco, a arch pneumologist during a sanatorium in Bergamo, told Italian journal Corriere della Sera. “In buses, cars, trains. A biological bomb, unfortunately.”

Valencia defender Ezequiel Garay was a initial Spanish joining actor to exam certain for COVID-19. The group played a Spanish joining diversion opposite Alavés about dual weeks after a diversion in Milan, and after Alavés reported that 15 people in a bar were infected, yet it did not contend a cases were directly associated to a compare opposite Valencia.

Italian soccer players’ organisation boss Damiano Tommasi believes sports authorities should demeanour prolonged and tough during a Atalanta compare before restarting leagues.

“Look during what’s function in China, where players are contrast certain for a coronavirus now — notwithstanding all a reserve manners and precautions being taken,” Tommasi told a AP, referring to a new certain exam for former Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini with Chinese bar Shandong Lunen.

Fellaini’s certain exam was shocking because, while a conflict began swelling in China, a pathogen has reportedly been decrease there.

“It’s not going to be adequate to usually exam a athletes,” Tommasi added. “The whole environment needs to be safe. Because if one group is stuck, it blocks a whole system.”

After winning a initial leg, Atalanta modernized to a Champions League quarterfinals following another feat in a second leg on Mar 10, that was played in an dull Mestalla Stadium in Valencia after Spanish authorities taboo games involving teams from northern Italy to be played with fans. A few thousand Valencia supporters collected during a Mestalla to acquire a team, though, and to watch a compare together in circuitously bars and restaurants.

Over a past month, Atalanta has mourned a deaths of 5 former staff members. While announcements on a bar website done no discuss of a virus, internal media have reported that during slightest 4 of them died with COVID-19.

Still, usually one certain exam from Atalanta has been announced.

“Some squads have selected not to exam their players unless they uncover symptoms,” Tommasi said. “Other squads tested everyone. These are particular choices.

“The conduct of a polite insurance group has talked about a odds that for each proven certain box there are substantially 10 tangible positives. … The high series of positives during Valencia creates we wonder.”

With a Champions League dangling since of a pandemic, Atalanta has no thought when it competence play in a quarterfinals — that again would be a club’s biggest diversion in a history. In a meantime, both a Bergamo group and Valencia are left wondering about a variable effects of their compare in February.


Azzoni reported from Madrid. Associated Press writers Daniella Matar in Milan and Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, and contributor Patricia Thomas in Rome contributed to this report.

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