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Bergamo, Italy, is near herd immunity level

Testing has shown about 17 per cent of London’s population now has COVID-19 antibodies, while the figure for the rest of Britain is 5 per cent.

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Studies suggest that people who have been infected gain some degree of immunity, although it is not clear for how long.

Bergamo is in the northern region of Lombardy, where more than 16,000 people have died from the virus – nearly half of Italy’s 34,000 fatalities. The country still has 35,000 people infected.

Bergamo became a chilling symbol of the nation’s COVID-19 battle when army trucks had to be drafted in to remove more than 60 coffins from the city’s overwhelmed morgue.

In May, Italy’s national statistics agency said Bergamo’s overall number of deaths in March was up 568 per cent on previous years, making it by far the worst affected part of the country.

Counting the cost: Coffins with coronavirus victims from Bergamo arrive at the Cinisello Balsamo cemetery near Milan, Italy.

Counting the cost: Coffins with coronavirus victims from Bergamo arrive at the Cinisello Balsamo cemetery near Milan, Italy. Credit:LaPress/AP

Population density and atmospheric pollution have been posited for the high infection and death rates in the province, as well as other factors, such as widespread manufacturing, with many businesses having commercial links with China, where the virus originated.

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Despite Italy declaring a strict national lockdown in early March, mobile phone data suggests up to 40 per cent of people kept going out and about.

Lombardy is still discovering hundreds of new cases a week, but the virus is becoming less aggressive.

“Something has happened in terms of the aggressiveness,” said Sergio Harari, an expert in pneumology from San Giuseppe Hospital in Milan. “We don’t know whether it’s something in the viral load or whether it’s a mutation.”

Several of Italy’s 20 regions are recording no new cases, including Sardinia, Umbria, Valle d’Aosta, Molise, Abruzzo, Calabria and Basilicata.

Authorities have begun rolling out a contact-tracing app for users in four regions — Puglia, Abruzzo, Liguria and Marche. People who have come into contact with others known to have the virus must undergo tests and self-quarantine.

The Telegraph, London

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