A football match played last month was a “biological bomb” that may have helped cause Bergamo in northern Italy to become an epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, experts have said.
Atalanta’s home Champions League tie against Valencia, held two days before the first case of locally transmitted COVID-19 was confirmed in the country, has been dubbed “Game Zero” by local media.
More than 44,000 fans, including around a third of the population of the province of Bergamo in the Lombardy region, attended the last-16 first leg at the San Siro stadium in Milan on 19 February.
It was billed as the biggest game in Atalanta’s history.
Nearly 2,500 fans of the Spanish club also made the trip.
More will have gathered in homes, bars and clubs to watch the match, which Atalanta won 4-1, sparking jubilant scenes inside and outside the ground, on television.
Less than a week after the game, the first cases were reported in the province of Bergamo.
The contagion was reported in Valencia at about the same time after a journalist who travelled to the match became the second person infected in the region.
More than a third of Valencia’s squad became infected after the match in Milan, while on Tuesday, Atalanta announced its first positive case in goalkeeper Marco Sportiello.
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