Italy had confirmed three cases of COVID-19 by 19th of February this year.
An Italian repatriate from China and two Chinese men had tested positive for the coronavirus prompting the nation to abort all flights to China.
Unknown to many, a greater health hazard lay in wait in the form of a Champions League match pitting Italy’s Atalanta against Spain’s Valencia.
The Mayor of Bergamo has since labelled the match as a “biological bomb” and a key factor behind the rapid spread of the virus across Italy and Spain.
Atalanta hosted Valencia at the San Siro Stadium because their stadium is currently being renovated.
A total of 44,000 fans attended the match which was played on February 19.
The Mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, believes the match is a major factor behind the 6,728 confirmed cases in Bergamo (the worst hit Italian province).
‘At that time we did not know what was happening.
‘If the virus was already circulating, the forty thousand fans who went to
San Siro were infected.
‘No one knew that the virus was already circulating among us.
‘Many watched the game in groups and there were lots of contact [between
fans] that night.
‘The virus passed from one person to another.’
Italy has since recorded the highest number of deaths (7,503 deaths by end of Wednesday 25th March), more than China where the pandemic started.
Spain is the second-worst affected country having recorded 3,434 deaths by end of Wednesday 25th March.
A senior doctor at the Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo corroborates Mayor Gori’s “biological bomb” assertions.
‘What happened was that 40,000 Atalanta fans travelled down together, went
and celebrated before and afterwards and returned home.
‘What they hadn’t realised was that many of them were infected, because at
that point [February 19] there had not been one death in Italy. Three weeks
later, 3,033 people died in a week in Bergamo.
‘What the scientists believe is that an awful lot of those people were
carriers, they went to that match and brought it home. A lot of people live
with older relatives and they gave it to them; they subsequently have died.’
Atalanta’s first-team goalkeeper Marco Sportiello tested positive for coronavirus prompting the team to quarantine.
A report given by Valencia last week indicates that over a third of
their team members have tested positive for the coronavirus since the champions