Bergamo is stationary, there is no more traffic, the streets are empty “as in August” according to the wishes of the mayor Giorgio Gori, and the few passers-by on foot are increasingly wearing masks with a filter. One of the shopping temples, the Oriocenter, appears deserted, and many stores have also closed early on any new decrees. “This is a war to be won – says Paolo Agnelli, the king of pots around the world -. Let’s stop and then we’ll try to leave as if it were a post-war period, but now let’s stop, it’s the only thing to do ». And when the industry says so, it means that fear has pervaded everything, because the enemy is invisible and imperceptible until he arrives and strikes, and he also takes fifty and sixty-year-olds to the hospital without oxygen.
It is the era of the Covid 19 coronavirus, which no one expected with such arrogance, but which has arrived, fast and lethal: so much so that some traffic remained in Viale Pirovano, the one that faces the monumental cemetery. The mortuary chambers of the city hospitals (Pope John in the first place, but also the Humanitas Gavazzeni Clinics), no longer hold up, and the Municipality must do its part, giving space and pitiful rest even to the remains of those who arrived at the hospital from the outside city and died of “interstitial pneumonia”, the main effect of the virus without a vaccine.
But even the mortuary of the city cemetery is no longer enough: to welcome the coffin, before the cremation, the Temple of Ognissanti was also opened, the modern church of the cemetery, occupied on average by 40 coffins every day. And if on an ordinary Saturday in early March the ordinary deaths recorded in the city could have been between 4 and 5, now the average is terrifying, and almost 20.
It happens in Bergamo and also in Zogno, where the parish priest decided to play once only the death knell because otherwise, the funeral bells should continue all day.
Already, as in war, patterns, spaces, and points of reference are missing, after 142 victims out of a total of 244 Municipalities, concentrated among Nembro, Alzano Lombardo, Albino, the first territories to suffer, but more and more also in the city. As if the virus flow after hitting hard in the lower Val Seriana, had veered at some point in two directions: on one side Zogno and the Brembana Valley, beyond the ridges of the first Prealps, on the other the city, to do even more harm and hit between the neighborhoods, where the buildings and movements they are closer, in the heart of a Bergamo that in recent years has reached levels of dynamism, including tourism, which probably had never been seen. There are no more trolleys and tourists from Spain or Eastern Europe, around, just a big void, and after the first invitation at the end of February not to stop and continue to live, Mayor Gori today sends at least one message a day via social, to invite everyone to stay at home.
One wonders why, however, Bergamo and its province ended up in the grip of the global virus at these levels. The hospital system, committed to coping with the emergency by touching the collapse, has never taken a clear position on the topic and specific cases, but the doubt is that there has been an underestimation of the symptoms of some patients, who had even arrived at the hospital before the alarm went off in Codogno (21 February). And the attention goes in particular to the Val Seriana and the hospital of Alzano, the one from which the first news of the infections emerged on Sunday 23 February, only a couple of days after the Lodigiano. But going to reconstruct the cases of individual patients, the reality speaks of contagions and deaths in parallel, if not even in advance, on the outbreak of the lower Lombard region, of people with suspicious symptoms that in that same period managed to have the outcome of the buffer only after days, spent by patients in ordinary wards. Has this created a devastating hotbed between Nembro, Alzano, but also Albino and Villa di Serio?
The first victim lived in Villa, Ernesto Ravelli, 83 years old, who died late in the evening of Sunday 23 February after the emergency transport to Pope John of Bergamo from Alzano, where he had been hospitalized on Friday: it was the day after the positive test on patient 1, the runner of Codogno. Franco Orlandi was an ex-truck driver from Nembro, 83 years old: relatives explained that he had already been hospitalized on Saturday 15 February in the hospital of Alzano, the “Pesenti Fenaroli”, in the department of Medicine, where he has always remained, but the outcome of the swab dates back to 23, just eight days later. And the ex truck driver died on the 25th.
The Bergamo East territorial health company (which also manages the Alzano structure) has never specified anything about it. Not even on the case of the sales representative Samuele Acerbis, 63, also from Nembro, who said he had had a fever since February 17, that he was always hospitalized in Alzano between 20 and 21, and that he waited three days before being subjected to the swab, positive, and then transferred to Intensive Care to the “Papa Giovanni” of Bergamo. Very soon, at the “Pesenti Fenaroli”,
The doubts remain, even now that the number of victims has overflowed, far beyond the Val Seriana: there was already an outbreak in progress in the territory that “swept” the hospital of Alzano, thus becoming a sounding board and spread of the contagion, or has the underestimation of some cases contributed significantly to transforming the Bergamo area into an area where, in these days, the most recurring sound is that of ambulances? In 18 days, starting from February 23, there were 142 dead. Almost 10 per day. A war to be won by stopping, a war never seen before.