Coronavirus: Spread of deadly virus linked to Atalanta versus Valencia UCL match

Carrie Guzman
March 26, 2020

Nearly 30 busloads of followers made the 60-kilometer (37-mile) journey from Bergamo to Milan.

At about the same time in Spain's Valencia, a person who came to Bergamo to watch the match became the second person infected in the region, and after him the deadly virus spread rapidly in Spain.

The mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, believes the encounter between Atalanta and Valencia caused the massive spread of coronavirus in Italy and Spain.

Regarding the unusually lethal nature of the outbreak there, an Italian immunologist (via Corriere dello Sport) pointed to Bergamo's status as an economic and social center, as well as to the reputation of the region's inhabitants for being hard-working and industrious, suggesting they may have been more inclined than some others to shrug off symptoms of illness and continue with their daily lives.

Meanwhile, Immunologist professor Francesco Le Foche insists it was "madness" for the game to go ahead.

"I'm sure that 40,000 people hugging and kissing each other at a distance of one centimetre for four times, as Atalanta scored four times, well, those were an incredible accelerator for the infection", Lorini said. "The game was a factor, but the hospital is the most plausible explanation".

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"With hindsight, it was madness to play with a crowd present, but at the time things weren't clear enough".

The match was attended by 44,000 fans.

Now suspended all European national Championships, excluding the championship of Belarus, as well as Champions League and Europa League.

As of Tuesday this week, almost 7,000 people in 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 for the pandemic. Atalanta said Tuesday (via Reuters) that its goalkeeper, Marco Sportiello, became the first on its club and the 15th in Italy's Serie A to test positive.

Luca Lorini, the head of the intensive care unit at the Pope John XXIII hospital in Bergamo, now has 88 patients under his care with the coronavirus; not including many more in other parts of the hospital. If the virus was already circulating, the forty thousand fans who went to San Siro were infected.

'Many watched the game in groups and there were lots of contact [between fans] that night.

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