Austrian ski town suspected as source of coronavirus across Europe

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Politico reports that Tyrolean village of Ischgl in Austria may have been the main source of the outbreak of coronavirus in Europe.

Health authorities across Scandinavia have traced several hundred cases to Ischgl. On Tuesday, Norway said nearly 40 percent of the more than 1,400 infections in the country originated in Austria. National authorities believe hundreds of additional cases in both Austria and Germany are connected directly to Ischgl.

While Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has won high praise at home and abroad for his aggressive response to the coronavirus threat, critics say Vienna’s sudden policy shift last week only occurred after it realized the situation in Tyrol had taken a dire turn.

Despite early warnings from other countries about problems in Ischgl, Tyrolean officials resisted taking assertive action, fearing the negative impact on local business. The entire region’s economy depends on tourism. Vienna didn’t intervene.

“Greed took precedence over the responsibility for the health of the community and guests,” Austrian daily Der Standard concluded in a commentary this week.

The first sign of serious trouble emerged on March 1, when officials in Iceland discovered that 15 passengers on an Icelandair flight arriving the day before from Munich had tested positive for coronavirus. Fourteen of the infected had been in Ischgl.

Iceland warned officials in Austria, but health authorities there dismissed the concerns out of Reykjavik.

In the days that followed, however, similar reports of infections among Ischgl tourists arrived from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

About one quarter of the 1,648 coronavirus cases in Austria are in Tyrol, a state that accounts for less than 10 percent of the country’s population.

Read more via Politico

Once you're here...