First coronavirus case confirmed at Bergamo-based Atalanta


(Reuters) - Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello has tested positive for coronavirus, taking the number of confirmed cases among players in Italy’s top soccer league Serie A to 15 on Tuesday.

“Marco is currently asymptomatic,” said a club statement.

“The preventative quarantine, which Marco and all the other first-team players were placed in, will end on March 27.”

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Italy is Europe’s worst-affected country from the coronavirus outbreak and the national death toll rose to 6,820 on Tuesday, the largest in the world.

The province Bergamo is the worst hit in the country, with 6,728 confirmed cases.

Mayor Giorgio Gori said the Champions League match between Atalanta and Valencia at the San Siro stadium in Milan on Feb. 19, attended by around 40,000 fans, may have contributed to the spread of the virus in the nearby city of Bergamo.

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

Sportiello was among the substitutes that night, while Spanish La Liga club Valencia last week said that more than a third of their players and coaching staff have tested positive for the virus since their trip to Italy.

There are three confirmed cases at Italian champions Juventus -- Paulo Dybala, Blaise Matuidi and Daniele Rugani --while three players at Fiorentina, one at Hellas Verona, one at AC Milan and six at Sampdoria have also tested positive.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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