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How Champions League escalated coronavirus in Italy

A coronavirus outbreak at a local hospital and a Champions League match played in Milan are thought to be among the main factors that contributed to an escalation of cases in Italy’s worst-affected province, Bergamo, its mayor has said.

About 40,000 football fans from Bergamo travelled the 30 miles (50km) to Milan’s San Siro stadium on 19 February to watch their team, Atalanta, beat the Spanish team Valencia.

“It was crowded in the stadium and then afterwards in the bars,” Giorgio Gori, the mayor of the city of Bergamo, told reporters via video link. “For sure, that night there was a strong escalation of contagion between people.”

As of Tuesday night, there were 6,728 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the province of Bergamo.

Valencia said last week that more than a third of their players and coaching staff had tested positive for the virus, implying in a statement that the club’s participation in the Champions League first-leg tie against Atalanta is linked to the high number of positive tests.

The game was played two days before the virus suddenly emerged in Codogno, a town in the province of Lodi about 40 miles from Bergamo. About 2,500 Valencia fans travelled to Milan for the game, several of whom also tested positive, including a Spanish journalist.

The outbreak in Bergamo province was first detected at a hospital in the town of Alzano Lombardo two days after Italy’s first locally transmitted case was confirmed in Codogno, which lies south of Milan.

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