According to correspondence and meeting minutes that news agency AFP has in their possession, the regional government of Tyrol in Austria ignored early warnings from Icelandic health authorities about the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the Austrian ski resort village Ischgl. The area later became a COVID-19 hotspot. Sixteen Icelanders are believed to have contracted the novel coronavirus in the town. Mbl.is reported first.
More than 6,000 tourists reportedly contracted SARS-CoV-2 in Ischgl, many of them spreading the infection further in their home countries. Tyrol authorities have repeatedly stated that their response to the spread of the virus was adequate and sufficient based on the information available at the time. The documents in AFP’s possessions show, however, that they knew of likely infections at certain bars and downplayed this knowledge in messages to the public.
When Icelanders who had been in Ischgl tested positive upon returning to Iceland in early March, Icelandic authorities contacted Austrian officials to warn them of the possible spread of the virus in the resort town. Rather than heeding Icelandic authorities’ warning, Austrian officials decided to focus on the comments of two of these Icelanders, who stated they may have been infected on the plane ride home. These comments later headlined a press release from authorities.
Four Austrian officials are now under investigation for possibly endangering the public with their response to the virus. Several lawsuits have also been fined in connection with COVID-19 cases that have been traced to Ischgl.