During the coronavirus pandemic, the village of Nembro near Bergamo in northern Italy was one of the earliest and most severely affected places in the Western world.
Nembro had a population of about 11,500 in January 2020. From mid-February to mid-April, there was an excess mortality rate of about 150 people or 800%, which was probably largely caused by the coronavirus. In 85 deaths the virus was confirmed by a test.
(Many people could not yet be tested at that time. Some people might have died due to the local collapse of elderly and health care and the lockdown itself).
80% of the deceased (about 120 persons) were over 75 years old; 15% (about 20 persons) were 65 to 74 years old; 5% (about 10 persons) were 15 to 64 years old. No children or adolescents died in Nembro. Precise data on intensive care patients is not yet available.
The residents suspect that, due to the close industrial contacts with China, the coronavirus might have circulated already since December or January, when the mortality rate was already somewhat elevated. In mid-February, the rapid and strong outbreak began, peaking in early March. The local hospital may have played an amplifying role.
Cancer had previously been the leading cause of death among Nembro men, and lung cancer the most common type of cancer, suggesting a pre-existing health risk due to widespread smoking and high levels of air pollution in northern Italy. Cardiovascular disease is also common in Nembro.
Nembro was taken by surprise by the coronavirus and had no chance of protecting its large risk group of senior citizens. The more positive side is that in Nembro too, people of school and working age were able to handle the new coronavirus comparatively well.