Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, has appeared this Friday before the Prosecutor’s Office to explain their decisions at the start of the pandemic and to clarify why the area of Bergamo (north), one of the most hit by the coronavirus.
The prosecutor of that city, Maria Cristina Broken, arrived early in the morning at the Chigi Palace in Rome, the seat of the Government, and questioned Conte for more than three hours as “informed person” of the facts, without attributing crimes for the moment. That is, it is not imputed
Then the Interior Minister testified, Luciana Lamorgese, and this one of Health will follow, Robert Speranza, two of the maximum connoisseurs of those moments when Italy was already peeking at the crisis sanitary of its recent history.
The Prosecutor’s Office tries to clarify the reasons why the Lombardy region (north) became the most affected for the pandemic of the entire country, especially its province of Bergamo, and if behind this tragedy there was some kind of political responsibility. In late May the governor of the region was also questioned, Attilio Fontana, and its Health Counselor, Giulio Gallera.
The central government, coalition between the anti-system 5 Star Movement and center-left parties, and the Lombardy regional, in the hands of the far-right League, reciprocally claim responsibility for managing the first days of the crisis.
“I am not worried”
For the moment, no details have been disclosed about Conte’s testimony before the Prosecutor’s Office, although he has always said to feel calm. “What I have to say to the prosecutor, I will do before him and I cannot advance it. I will duly report all the facts to my knowledge. I’m not worried at all“he declared two days ago at the gates of the Chigi Palace before journalists.
This Friday he again defended his position in a long interview to the newspaper The Repubblica in which, however, he speaks briefly on this specific question.
“I would do what I did again because I acted on the basis of science and conscience,” said Conte, a lawyer by training, when asked if he would now make the same decisions then.
Why was Bergamo not isolated?
The underlying question that prosecutors are trying to clarify is why several areas of the province of Bergamo from the outset despite the fact that there were data that certified that the virus was already running through the streets and hospitals of its municipalities.
Lombardy, with capital in Milan, is the most affected region of the country: it accumulates 91,000 of the 236,000 contagions registered in the whole country and the deaths already exceed 16,000 (of the 34,000 total).
In the province of Bergamo, the official deaths are around 2,800, although its city council estimates that there are actually about 6,000, since many people did not undergo the test before dying.
It all started on February 21, when the first case of infection was confirmed in the nearby Lombard municipality of Codogno. A day later the Government isolated eleven outbreaks, ten Lombardy towns, from the province of I gave it, and another in the Veneto (northeast).
Nembro and Alzano
However, in that list of closed towns there were not two in which the cases were already beginning to accumulate: Black and Alzano, areas of high industrial concentration in the province of Bergamo.
The isolation of these two municipalities would not come until March 8Two weeks later, when the Government decreed the closure of the entire region and other neighboring territories, one day before confining all national territory to contain the contagions. The relatives of the victims of Nembro and Alzano have denounced to the Prosecutor’s Office that during those two weeks the virus circulated freely in the area, which is why the situation became critical.
Just think that in a month Black buried to 145 neighbors and Alzano to 122, many of them deceased in nursing homes, more than the dead they register on average annually.
A key piece of the investigation is the Alzano hospital, where on February 23 the first two deaths from coronavirus were already recorded. Given this situation, the director of the center ordered its closure, but the regional government reopened it a few hours later.
Were there pressures?
One of the big suspicions is if the political leaders received pressure from the businessmen so as not to isolate and stop production in these two municipalities, highly industrialized and located in the economic heart of the country.
Nobody forgets the campaign launched on February 28 by the industrial employers’ association Confindustria to reassure its international partners, entitled Bergamo is running (Bergamo continues to function), in which even the mayor participated, Giorgio Gori.
The alderman has expressed his regret for that initiative, similar to that of Milano non si ferma (Milan does not stop), but has assured that then nothing allowed to predict what was coming and has ruled out possible pressures.