From Politico Europe:
By the time local officials realized the extent of the outbreak, the damage was done.
By MATTHEW KARNITSCHNIG 3/19/20
The lively après-ski scene that draws millions to Ischgl every winter proved to be a perfect incubator for coronavirus
A popular ditty among the Alpine party-set celebrates the Tyrolean village of Ischgl as a “white winter’s dream.” For recent visitors, the town has become something more akin to a prolonged nightmare.
The lively après-ski scene that draws millions to the town every winter proved to be a perfect incubator for coronavirus.
Skiing is one of the most coed sports, so it goes along with up close and personal socializing.
Authorities believe that busloads of European visitors departed the village known as the “Ibiza of the Alps” (and not in a good way) in late February, leaving with more than the usual mountain tan and hangover.
By the time Austrian officials realized the extent of the outbreak, the damage was done. 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.
iSteve commenter Blah Blah Blah Blah writes:
Steve, I find your stigmatization of skiers to be problematic. This is not the time for skiphobia masquerading as concern over public health. ANYBODY can get coronavirus, not just skiers.
Seriously, I’ve been harping about “people who have gone skiing in 2020” being a high-risk category for infections not because I hate skiers (I was one a long time ago), but because knowledge is good.
For example, having gone skiing in February or March would be helpful in assessing whether to use a (still too rare) coronavirus test on a patient.
It would also be helpful to let people begin some longer range planning to get the word out there that Northern Hemisphere ski resorts will definitely not reopen in what’s left of the 2019-2020 ski season, and probably won’t open for the 2020-2021 ski, unless there is some very good news with the virus petering out. The ski industry needs to begin planning how to make their facilities safer.
At least in the United States, the ski business tends to be a high risk one because some winters it just doesn’t snow. So, hopefully, they have a little more reserves than many other industries that are being very hard hit.
The high rate of infections among skiers has implications for how, precisely, the virus is most often transmitted. I’m thinking that runny noses due to cold temperatures are a big problem. Maybe instead of blowing noses into a paper tissue, you should blow your nose into a disinfecting wipe?
To speed reopening the economy we need to rank activities from most risky to least risky: e.g., from dropping by your local wet mart for some fresh bat-and-pangolin stir fry to, say, flagpole-sitting. Sadly, it looks like skiing will be, for awhile, at the most risky end, but other activities are not.