Game Zero: spread of the virus linked to the Champions League match | Football news
About 2,500 fans of the visiting Spanish club Valencia also traveled to that Champions League match.
More than a month later, experts point to the February 19 game as one of the main reasons why Bergamo has become one of the epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic: a “biological bomb” was the way a respiratory specialist described it, and why 35 percent of the Valencia team was infected.
The match, which has been dubbed “Game Zero” by local media, was held two days before the first locally broadcast COVID-19 case in Italy was confirmed.
“It was mid-February, so we didn’t have the circumstances of what was happening,” Bergamo Mayor Giorgio Gori said this week during a live Facebook chat with the Foreign Press Association in Rome.
“If it is true what they say the virus was already circulating in Europe in January, then it is highly likely that 40,000 Bergamaschi in the stands of San Siro, all together, exchanged the virus with each other. How is it possible that so many Bergamaschi that night were They gathered in houses, bars to watch the game and did the same.
“Unfortunately, we could not have known. No one knew that the virus was already here,” added the mayor.
“It was inevitable”.
Less than a week after the game, the first cases were reported in the province of Bergamo.
Around the same time in Valencia, a journalist who traveled to the party became the second infected person in the region, and it wasn’t long before the people who were in contact with him also had the virus, as well as fans. from Valencia that were in the game.
While Atalanta announced his first positive case for goalkeeper Marco Sportiello on Tuesday, Valencia said more than a third of his team became infected, “despite the club’s strict measures” after the game in Milan.
As of Tuesday, almost 7,000 people in the province of Bergamo had tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 1,000 people had died from the virus, making Bergamo the most deadly province in all of Italy due to the pandemic. The Valencia region had more than 2,600 infected people.
Luca Lorini, head of the intensive care unit at Pope John XXIII hospital in Bergamo, currently has 88 patients in his care with the coronavirus; not including many more in other parts of the hospital.
“I am sure that 40,000 people hugged and kissed while they were an inch away, four times, because Atalanta scored four goals (the final result was 4-1), it was definitely a great accelerator for the contagion,” he said. Lorini to The Associated. Press on Wednesday.
“Right now we are at war. When the time for peace comes, I can assure you that we will go see how many of the 40,000 people who attended the game were infected,” Lorini added.
“Right now we have other priorities.”
Silvio Brusaferro, head of the Italian Higher Institute of Health, said over the weekend in the nationally televised briefing by the civil protection agency that gambling was “one of the hypotheses” evaluated as the source of the crisis in Bergamo .
“It is certainly an analysis that can be done,” said Brusaferro.
Last week, the Bergamo cemetery was so overwhelmed by the death toll that military trucks began transporting bodies to a neighboring region for cremation.
Italy remained the European country with the majority of cases, almost 70,000 and with almost 7,000 deaths, the most in the world and more than double that of China.
Spain is the next country in Europe with the majority of cases, almost 48,000, and has surpassed China in the number of deaths with more than 3,400.
More than 435,000 people worldwide have been infected and the death toll closed at 20,000, according to the current count maintained by Johns Hopkins University. Overall, more than 100,000 have been recovered.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that disappear within two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia and death.
Official attendance for the game on February 19 was 45,792, a “local” record for Atalanta, a small club that made its debut in Europe’s top club competition. Atalanta captain Alejandro “Papu” Gómez told the Argentine newspaper Olé that it was “terrible” to have played that game.
“It is a city of 120,000 people and that day (40,000) they went to San Siro,” said the Argentine.
“It was a historic game for Atalanta, something unique. To give you an idea, it took my wife three hours to get to Milan, when that trip normally takes 40 minutes.”
The game was played in Milan because the Atalanta stadium in Bergamo did not meet the requirements established by the governing body of European football UEFA.
Before the match, Valencia fans roamed freely around Milan and gathered in some of the city’s squares, including Piazza del Duomo, drinking and singing team songs.
Looking back, the conditions for the spread of the virus were high, with thousands of people gathering without much concern, at a time when the outbreak in Europe was not yet known, and then traveling back home. Almost 30 busloads of fans made the 60-kilometer (37-mile) journey from Bergamo to Milan.
The night before the game, there was no social distancing as officials from both clubs mixed and exchanged gifts and handshakes at a gala dinner hosted by Atalanta.