Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
The devastating impact of the Austrian tourist resort Ischgl accused of spreading COVID-19 all over Europe has been confirmed by medical tests finding 42 percent of residents had coronavirus antibodies amid claims “thousands of people could have avoided infection”.
Speaking to Newsflash, lawyer Dr Peter Kolba, who was representing victims and their families who believe they were infected in the holiday resort of Ischgl in Austria, said that “thousands of people could have avoided infection” were it not for inaction by Austrian officials.
He said the delays meant that instead, tourist hotspot Ischgl helped spread COVID “all over Europe” and “all over the world”.
The study, carried out by nearby Innsbruck University, found that roughly 42 percent of the residents of Ischgl, Europe’s coronavirus hotspot that saw COVID-19 spread far and wide to the UK, to Iceland and to the United States, have coronavirus antibodies.
It is one of the highest ratios in the world.
Asked why the number was so high, Dr Kolba, who is representing tourists who were infected with the virus at Ischgl, told Newsflash: “It is a small mountain town where lots of people live in close proximity. But there are 10,000 tourists who go there every week.”
He added: “There are many places were people can get infected, including cable cars and bars, with tourists sitting close together and drinking and playing.”
Furthermore, he says that the data shows that “the outbreak started in early February”, adding that “the authorities waited far too long into March to impose any restrictions and even then it was not enough.”
Discussing the latest figures, Dr Kolba said: “It proves our view of the situation. The local administration had a delay in warning tourists and in closing down the whole valley.
“I think that if we were to interpret the findings, they should have closed the valley at least a week before. The information about the tourists from Iceland shows they were in Ischgl in early February.
“If the authorities had reacted properly, they should have closed the place down sooner. If they had done so, thousands of people could have avoided infection.
“The only reasons for the delay are economic reasons due to tourism. In Innsbruck, one and a half weeks earlier, one person was found to be infected at a hotel and the whole place was closed down and everyone checked.
“But in Ischgl when the first infection was detected, no information was provided to tourists and it was claimed the tourists could only be infected by bar staff, which is a ridiculous claim, as the bars were absolutely packed.”
“This is to do with pressures linked to the tourist industry.”
And he has slammed the authorities for bungling closing down the area, saying: “Closing down the whole valley on 13th march was very chaotic. Chancellor Kurz announced at 2pm that the valley was to close and when the tourists heard this, they left in a completely chaotic way.
“The idea of the officials was for local tourists and staff to remain quarantined but foreign tourists were free to leave the country. The only requirement was to get the addresses of the foreign tourists so the health officials in their countries could be warned.
“But we know this did not work, as these forms were sent to the hotels at after 4pm, when many people were already on their way.
“It is unclear if the Austrian officials sent any information to the homelands of the tourists.
“And this helped spread the virus all over Europe and you could say all over the world.”
According to Kolba, 48 people infected with the virus in Ischgl came from the USA.
According to data provided to Newsflash by Dr Peter Kolba, there have been thousands of cases of coronavirus in Tyrol, including 192 Belgians infected with the deadly virus, 3,981 Germans, 180 Britons, 798 Dutch citizens, 99 Danish citizens, 222 Austrians, 156 Swiss, 73 Swedes, 37 Irish, 3 people from Iceland, 8 Canadians, and 19 people from Luxembourg.
In total, he has recorded 6,151 instances of people having contracted the virus there, 74.4 percent of whom got it in Ischgl (against 10 percent in the nearby town of St Anton am Arlberg). In total, he has data pertaining to victims from 47 countries.
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