GB Trainee Ski Instructors at Centre of Covid-19 Outbreak in Austria
13th January 2021
Last modified on January 14th, 2021
The authorities in Austria have identified a cluster of 17 cases in the resort of Jochberg in the Tirol. They are reported to be mainly from a ski instructor training course. UPDATED
Most of those infected experienced the first mild symptoms at the beginning of January and are now in isolation.
It is understood the 17 all live in the same accommodation.
They were training, along with other nationalities, at the Tirol Ski School.
Due to the virus and restrictions no classes have taken place.
It is unclear if they have the new and mutated form of coronavirus, B117, and results from further tests should be known shortly.
“These were people of various nationalities, mainly British citizens,” Tirol’s provincial government said in a statement.
All of the 1500 residents in Jochberg are being offered a free coronavirus test.
”The first slight symptoms in this connection were recorded in the majority of the affected people on January 3rd,” said the head of Austria’s coronavirus task force, Elmar Rizzoli.
“As a result of these and subsequent positive antigen test results, further investigations were initiated after the abnormalities in the PCR test were known.
”It then turned out that they were people of different origins – mostly British citizens. They are staying in Tirol for professional purposes as part of a ski instructor training or further education – the last travellers arrived in Tirol on December 18th.”
New quarantine regulations came into force on December 19th and flights from the UK were banned on December 22nd as details emerged of the new strain of the virus.
Jochberg is a small resort but linked in to the larger Kitzbuhel ski area.
Kitzbuhel is due to hold its famous Hahnenkamm downhill race the weekend after next is also hosting replacements for the Lauberhorn races in Wengen.
The Lauberhorn was due to take place this weekend but has been cancelled due to coronavirus.
There is no suggestion at this stage that the Hahnenkamm is under threat.
However, there were due to be two men’s slalom races in Kitzbuhel this Saturday and Sunday, one scheduled and one moved from Wengen.
The International Ski Federation announced on Wednesday that those two races have moved to Flachau. They will continue to be held on Saturday and Sunday.
The rest of the Kitzbuhel is “currently set to go ahead as planned” FIS said.
There are concerns the British trainee instructors in Jochberg may have brought the new and more virulent strain of the virus with them.
“Even if it is currently still an initial suspicion… we want to play it safe and not waste any time,” said the Regional Health Councillor, Bernhard Tilg.
Ski resorts in Austria were allowed to open on Xmas eve, December 24th, but many resorts facilities including hotels, bars and restaurants have remained closed.
The ski slopes were aimed to be open for locals-only.
The rise in Covid-19 cases is falling in the Tirol and Austria has one of the lowest rates of increase in the alpine countries.
It stands at 166 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.
It is 189 in France, in Italy it is 203 and 262 in Switzerland.
In the UK it is currently 609.
The news has been met with anger by some in Austria.
“Workers from eastern Europe have not been allowed to go home for weeks – or only under the strictest conditions – but ski teachers from around Europe are allowed to come to Tirol for training and get infected? This just beggars belief,” Florian Klenk, editor of left-wing weekly Falter, said on Twitter.
There is no suggestion the instructors have broken the rules on arriving in Austria.
Some in Austria have been questioning the handling of the situation by the authorities.
“This is what happens when the cable car lobby rules and not common sense,” said the opposition Social Democrat Party.
Further tests are being carried out.