Connect with us

World News

‘Game Zero?’ Soccer Game Attended by 40,000 Fans Likely Made This Italian City a Coronavirus Epicenter

Published

on


(ROME) — It was the biggest soccer game in Atalanta’s history and a third of Bergamo’s population made the short trip to Milan’s famed San Siro Stadium.

Nearly 2,500 fans of visiting Spanish club Valencia also traveled to that Champions League match.

More than a month later, experts are pointing to the Feb. 19 game as one of the biggest reasons why Bergamo has become one of the epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic — a “biological bomb” was the way one respiratory specialist put it — and why 35% of Valencia’s team became infected.

The match, which local media have dubbed “Game Zero,” was held two days before the first case of locally transmitted COVID-19 was confirmed in Italy.

“We were 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’s true what they’re saying that the virus was already circulating in Europe in January, then it’s very probable that 40,000 Bergamaschi in the stands of San Siro, all together, exchanged the virus between them. As is possible that so many Bergamaschi that night got together in houses, bars to watch the match and did the same.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t have known. No one knew the virus was already here,” the mayor added. “It was inevitable.”

Less than a week after the game, the first cases were reported in the province of Bergamo.

At about the same time in Valencia, a journalist who traveled to the match became the second person infected in the region, and it didn’t take long before people who were in contact with him also had the virus, as did Valencia fans who were at the game.

While Atalanta announced its first positive case Tuesday for goalkeeper Marco Sportiello, Valencia said more than a third of its squad got infected, “despite the strict measures adopted by the club” after the match in Milan.

As of Tuesday, nearly 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 for the pandemic. The Valencia region had more than 2,600 people infected.

Luca Lorini, the head of the intensive care unit at the Pope John XXIII hospital in Bergamo, currently has 88 patients under his care with the coronavirus; not including many more in other parts of the hospital.

“I’m sure that 40,000 people hugging and kissing each other while standing a centimeter apart — four times, because Atalanta scored four goals (the final result was 4-1) — was definitely a huge accelerator for contagion,” Lorini told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

“Right now we’re at war. When peace time comes, I can assure you we will go and see how many of the 40,000 people who went to the game became infected,” Lorini added. “Right now we have other priorities.”

Silvio Brusaferro, the head of Italy’s Superior Institute of Health, said over the weekend at the nightly nationally televised briefing by the civil protection agency that the game was “one of the hypotheses” being evaluated as a source of the crisis in Bergamo.

“It’s certainly an analysis that can be made,” Brusaferro said.

By last week, Bergamo’s cemetery became so overwhelmed by the number of dead that military trucks began transporting bodies to a neighboring region for cremation.

Italy remained the European country with the most cases, nearly 70,000, and with almost 7,000 deaths — the most worldwide and more than twice as many as China.

Spain is the next country in Europe with the most cases, nearly 48,000, and it has surpassed China in the number of deaths with more than 3,400.

More than 435,000 people worldwide have been infected and the number of dead closed in on 20,000, according to the running count kept by Johns Hopkins University. Overall, more than 100,000 have recovered.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

The official attendance for the Feb. 19 game was 45,792 — a “home” record for Atalanta, a small club making its debut in Europe’s top club competition.

Atalanta captain Alejandro “Papu” Gómez told Argentine daily Olé it was “terrible” to have played that game.

“It’s a city of 120,000 people and that day (40,000) went to the San Siro,” the Argentine said. “It was a historic match for Atalanta, something unique. To give you an idea, my wife took three hours to get to Milan, when that trip normally takes 40 minutes.”

The game was played in Milan because Atalanta’s stadium in Bergamo didn’t meet the requirements set by European soccer governing body UEFA.

Before the match, Valencia fans freely roamed around Milan and gathered at some of the city’s plazas, including the Piazza del Duomo, drinking and chanting team songs.

Looking back, the conditions for virus contagion were high, with thousands of people gathering without much concern — at a time when the outbreak in Europe wasn’t yet known — and then traveling back home. Nearly 30 busloads of fans made the 60-kilometer (37-mile) trip from Bergamo to Milan.

The evening before the match, there was no social distancing as officials from both clubs mingled and exchanged gifts and handshakes at a gala dinner offered by Atalanta.

“I have heard a lot (of theories), I’ll say mine: Feb. 19, 40,000 Bergamaschi went to San Siro for Atalanta-Valencia,” Fabiano di Marco, the chief pneumologist at the hospital in Bergamo, told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “In buses, cars, trains. A biological bomb, unfortunately.”

Valencia defender Ezequiel Garay was the first Spanish league player to test positive for COVID-19. The team played a Spanish league game against Alavés about two weeks after the game in Milan, and later Alavés reported that 15 people in the club were infected, though it did not say the cases were directly related to the match against Valencia.

Italian soccer players’ association president Damiano Tommasi believes sports authorities should look long and hard at the Atalanta match before restarting leagues.

“Look at what’s happening in China, where players are testing positive for the coronavirus now — despite all the safety rules and precautions being taken,” Tommasi told the AP, referring to a recent positive test for former Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini with Chinese club Shandong Lunen.

Fellaini’s positive test was alarming because, while the outbreak began spreading in China, the virus has reportedly been receding there.

“It’s not going to be enough to just test the athletes,” Tommasi added. “The entire setting needs to be safe. Because if one team is stuck, it blocks the entire system.”

After winning the first leg, Atalanta advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals following another victory in the second leg on March 10, which was played in an empty Mestalla Stadium in Valencia after Spanish authorities prohibited games involving teams from northern Italy to be played with fans. A few thousand Valencia supporters gathered at the Mestalla to welcome the team, though, and to watch the match together in nearby bars and restaurants.

Over the past month, Atalanta has mourned the deaths of five former staff members. While announcements on the club website made no mention of the virus, local media have reported that at least four of them died with COVID-19.

Still, only one positive test from Atalanta has been announced.

“Some squads have chosen not to test their players unless they show symptoms,” Tommasi said. “Other squads tested everyone. These are individual choices.

“The head of the civil protection agency has talked about the likelihood that for every proven positive case there are probably 10 actual positives. … The high number of positives at Valencia makes you wonder.”

With the Champions League suspended because of the pandemic, Atalanta has no idea when it might play in the quarterfinals — which again would be the club’s biggest game in its history. In the meantime, both the Bergamo team and Valencia are left wondering about the unforeseen effects of their match in February.

___

Azzoni reported from Madrid. Associated Press writers Daniella Matar in Milan and Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, and reporter Patricia Thomas in Rome contributed to this report.





Source link

قالب وردپرس

World News

Protectionism Goes Local in Towns, States Battling Virus

Published

on


(Bloomberg) — The Covid-19 pandemic has already precipitated nationalist calls to repatriate supply lines for everything from masks and surgical gowns to ventilators. But we may be about to see protectionism going local. In the U.S., the competition for new gear in the face of a surge of cases has state and municipal governments scrambling to obtain all of those things and officials complaining that the federal government is making things worse. The barriers to internal travel are also going up. President Donald Trump, who has clashed with state governors, backed away from a plan to impose a federal quarantine on the states of New York, and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut over the weekend. But some states are already taking things into their own hands. Florida reportedly set up roadblocks on Interstate 95 to turn away New Yorkers at the state border. Rhode Island threatened to do the same before backing away and deciding simply to hunt down New Yorkers on its beaches for failing to self-isolate when they entered the state.It’s not just a state-level phenomenon. The New York Post last week reported that year-round residents in the Hamptons have revolted against a new influx of part-time refugees from New York City. The same push against the privileged apparently is being seen in Europe, according to the New York Times.For its part, the European Union is trying to lean against internal trade curbs. In return for restricting the export of personal protective equipment outside the EU in mid-March, the bloc’s member nations were asked to ease restrictions on the sale of such gear inside the 27-nation economy.There are good public health reasons for localism. No one wants to see the virus spread from urban centers to rural areas with few hospital beds and far more tenuous food-supply chains, as one local politician from Oregon pointed out last week in the Washington Post.But there may be economic consequences for all of this. What if we experience a further fracturing of supply lines as the pandemic grows? What if it’s not just international commerce that shuts down, but intra-national trade as well? There have been moments when G-7 and G-20 leaders have come together in recent weeks to proclaim the need for a common front to take on Covid-19. Everywhere, world leaders are appealing for national unity. A G-20 call with trade ministers Monday is a good place to start.There are signs also that for all the nationalism now in the air, governments are cooperating. A shipment of medical equipment from China landed in New York over the weekend. The federal government in the U.S. is shipping ventilators and protective equipment to state and local governments. But it’s not unreasonable these days to imagine a day when a need for ventilators in Michigan or Indiana provokes a push by local politicians to compel carmakers like Ford and GM — now venturing into the business of making the machines — to prioritize local communities. Or a local government in Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg from pressuring BMW or VW from doing the same. There is no doubt that globalization and international supply chains are under assault during this pandemic. Fear is a real thing. But before long, federalism and nationalism could be as well. All politics are local, the saying goes. Pandemics may by definition be anything but local. That doesn’t mean, though, the urges of politicians and their constituents won’t be. Charting the Trade TurmoilUrgent demand for medical equipment to fight the coronavirus has sent the cost of chartered aircraft skyrocketing, turning a usually humdrum process into a competitive auction.Today’s Must Reads Chain links | The pandemic is playing out in ways that few companies could have prepared for. But despite the shocks, the system should continue to function even under heavy strain, according to researchers of supply-chain logistics. Maine problem | Republican Senator Susan Collins called on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to temporarily defer tariffs for U.S. companies that are suffering economic hardship. Food security | The Philippines identified additional measures to ensure sufficient food supply amid a month-long lockdown of the country’s main island. Meanwhile, empty shipping containers are piling up in Manila. Machine orders | The Pentagon’s logistics agency has modified an existing contract and will spend $84.4 million to buy 8,000 ventilators from four vendors, with first delivery of 1,400 by early May. Inside look | Newly revealed details show that General Motors has been continuously engaged in the effort to build emergency ventilators. It’ll take about a month to ramp up.  Grain hoarding | Russia, the world’s biggest wheat exporter, proposed limiting grain shipments to protect its own food security in the face of the spreading pandemic.Bloomberg AnalysisWork week | Bloomberg Economics says China’s back-to-work rate edged up to around 90%. Supply shortages | Disinfectants and sanitizers that help fight the virus may be absent from store shelves for weeks. Use the AHOY function to track global commodities trade flows. See BNEF for BloombergNEF’s analysis of clean energy, advanced transport, digital industry, innovative materials, and commodities. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

World News

Bangladesh Garment Makers Say $3 Billion in Orders Lost Due to Coronavirus

Published

on


(DHAKA, Bangladesh) — Bangladesh garment manufacturers says fashion retailers have cancelled or put on hold more than $3 billion in orders due to the coronavirus outbreak, though a handful have agreed to pay anyway.

The data from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association released Monday reflected both orders already made or in the works and planned orders from the country, which is the world’s second largest exporter of clothing after China.

The cancelled orders, according to reports to the BGMEA from manufacturers, included tens of millions in purchases from many big buyers, including European buyers C&A and Inditex, Primark of Ireland, Britain’s Marks & Spencer and Tesco and U.S. retailers like Walmart and Target.

Bangladesh is just beginning to feel the direct impact of the pandemic and its government has ordered a shut down of most businesses to help contain it. But shocks to the country’s export markets have been cascading into its economy for weeks.

A survey of factory owners in Bangladesh released Friday showed millions of Bangladesh factory workers being sent home without the wages or severance pay they are owed.

The BGMEA reported that $1.8 billion in orders have been put on hold and another $1.4 billion have been cancelled. Cancellations of planned orders, for April-December, amounted to nearly $1.7 billion, it said. The figures are conservative because they exclude orders that would go to multiple buyers.

The new data were incorporated into a report by Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Global Workers’ Rights and the Worker Rights Consortium, a Washington, D.C.-based labor rights organization,.

Bangladesh manufacturers and labor groups have been appealing to big retailers to honor their commitments to suppliers.

Sweden’s H&M has said it will pay suppliers for orders already under production.

PVH, which owns the Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Heritage brands, has told suppliers it is releasing invoices that had been put on hold since March 18. Later invoices will gradually be processed.

The commitment for orders already under production or finished products not yet shipped would enable factory owners to get financing to tide them over, said a letter to suppliers seen by The Associated Press.

“PVH and H&M are doing the right thing, in contrast to the long list of brands refusing to pay for goods workers have already made for them,” said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium.

Big Western brands came under heavy pressure to improve conditions in factories after huge fires and other disasters killed hundreds of workers.

The store closures and other disruptions from the virus outbreak are straining a fragile supply chain in which big buyers have been squeezing their suppliers for years.

More than 1 million of the more than 4 million garment workers in Bangladesh already have lost their jobs or have been furloughed because of order cancellations and the failure of buyers to pay for canceled shipments.

___

AP Asia Business Editor Kurtenbach reported from Bangkok.





Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

World News

Kremlin Fights U.S. Sanctions, Backs Maduro in Rosneft Deal

Published

on


(Bloomberg) — The Kremlin’s sudden shift of ownership of multi-billion-dollar oil projects in Venezuela shields oil giant Rosneft PJSC from further U.S. sanctions but keeps Moscow firmly behind embattled President Nicolas Maduro amid a wider stand-off with Washington.“Russia is not walking away from Maduro and will seek to thwart U.S. efforts to depose him,” said Vladimir Frolov, a former diplomat and foreign policy analyst in Moscow. “Moscow is just shielding Rosneft from sanctions which could result in a blanket embargo on all Rosneft exports.”Fears of broader sanctions have grown after the U.S. in recent months slapped restrictions on Rosneft trading companies for handling business with Venezuela. More recently, the U.S. has hinted that it might step up pressure on the Russian oil sector to reduce production. That followed Moscow’s decision early this month not to deepen output cuts agreed with OPEC led Saudi Arabia to boost output, flooding the market and pushing prices to the lowest levels in decades.The administration of President Donald Trump has already reached out to Saudi leaders to reconsider their strategy, which has battered producers in the U.S. with low prices.Read: Putin and MBS Draw Trump Into Grudge Match for Oil SupremacyRosneft late Saturday announced it’s turning over its Venezuelan projects to an unnamed state-owned company in what it called an effort to protect its shareholders’ interests. Rosneft, which produces 40% of Russian oil and 5% of world output and has substantial exposure in the western financial system, can’t afford the risk of broad U.S. sanctions that could cripple its operations. Earlier this month, a Chinese company said it wouldn’t buy crude from Rosneft because of the risks caused by the sanctions on the trading companies.“As recently as February, the Venezuelan business was profitable, which offset the sanctions risk,” said Ivan Timofeyev, an analyst at the Kremlin-founded Russian International Affairs Council. “Now the desire to avoid sanctions coincided with the need to avoid losses” after oil prices plunged, he added.The Russian giant has already cut its exposure under multi-billion-dollar prepayment deals reached several years ago. Venezuela’s oil producer PDVSA owes Rosneft only $800 million at the end of the third quarter of 2019, according to the last available data, down from $4.6 billion at the end of 2017.Sanctions ProtectionThe latest Russian maneuver mirrored its strategy in 2018 when it used Promsvzyabank to set up a new banking vehicle to serve the defense industry after state-owned weapons producers came under U.S. sanctions, thereby shielding the country’s two largest banks, government-controlled Sberbank and VTB. Unlike those big lenders, which have significant exposure to western financial institutions and thus are at risk from sweeping U.S. sanctions, the new special entity operated largely out of Washington’s reach.While Rosneft may even push to have the recently imposed sanctions on the trading units lifted, risks remain.“Rosneft is trying to stay out of the firing-line but nothing stops the Americans from finding another pretext to sanction it,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, who heads the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a research group in Moscow that advises the Kremlin.“Russia understands that Maduro is in an awful situation, especially with oil prices at rock bottom,” he said. “But Putin’s psychology is that you should stick with partners in difficulty.”Maduro said on state TV on Saturday evening that ”President Putin sent me a message through his ambassador reaffirming their strategic and integral support to Venezuela in all areas.”Rosneft StakeFrolov said, “Moscow thinks that Maduro is actually winning the fight with the opposition and is likely to split it to the point where he would be able to win parliamentary elections this year.” Russia has backed Maduro even as the U.S. and its allies back opposition leader Juan Guaido.For Rosneft, the deal also could give management, led by Igor Sechin, its influential chief executive, greater control, since the company is receiving 9.6% of its own shares in the transaction. That may mean the government’s share in Rosneft falls below a controlling stake, according to Andrey Polischuk, Moscow-based analyst for Raiffeisenbank.Neither the company nor the government would comment on whether the deal will bring state ownership below 50%.“Sechin gets Rosneft shares and Putin gets the chance to trade with Trump,” said Konstantin Simonov, head of the National Energy Security Fund in Moscow.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

Trending