Tuesday, March 24, 2020

My Winter in Tirol. An Unexpected End of the Season


A friend suggested that I should write an article about my thoughts and personal experience of how I am living this moment of self-isolation. But before I start, I wanted to document the process that ended with the closure of the ski resorts in Tirol.

The COVID-19 outbreak is and undesired effect of our time. Globalization offers many benefits and opportunities but also presents new risks. Globalization has made our world a smaller place allowing people and goods to move more freely and more frequently around the globe.
Human migration has been the main factor for infectious disease transmission throughout recorded history. But, as the world becomes more interconnected, the volume, speed, and reach of travel increase exponentially the opportunities for rapid and effective disease spread growth.
And this is the case of the COVID-19 outbreak. travel and mobility play a critical role in the rapid dissemination of disease.
International tourist arrivals grew 6% in 2018, totaling 1.4 billion according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Tourism is today one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and development but as an undesired effect, we also saw tourists, students, and professionals spreading the COVID-19 around Europe and the world.

On Monday, February 24th a 24-year-old Italian living in Innsbruck and her boyfriend of the same age reported to Coronavirus symptoms after a stay in Lombardy at the Tirol control center. On Tuesday, a second test confirmed the suspicion and the couple was immediately isolated in the Innsbruck Hospital.
On February 25th Coronavirus officially reached Tirol.
It turned out that the sick student works as a receptionist in the Hotel Europa at Innsbruck Central Station. All employees and guests, 62 persons, who dealt with the Italian woman were examined and tested. Due to the close contact with her, nine of these 62 people tested were quarantined. Also in quarantine were three other people who belong to her close social environment.

On March 5th a 22-year-old Norwegian student who had been in Milan and Bologna at the end of February tested positive in Landeck district. Also, 14 people from Iceland who were already leaving at the weekend spent their skiing holiday in the Tirolean Oberland when they returned to Iceland tested positive for the coronavirus.
After a stay in Verona, which is located in one of the risk regions in northern Italy, a 22-year-old woman from Kitzbühel showed flu-like, mild symptoms. Swab samples were taken immediately. The test results from the Virological Institute in Innsbruck confirmed coronavirus disease.

On March 6th three other people have contracted the coronavirus in Tirol. All three people were Norwegian citizens, friends and all between 23 and 24 years old. They said they had had close contact with other Norwegians in the past few days who tested positive for Corona in Norway.

On March 7th a 36-year-old german citizen was tested positive in the Landeck city of Ischgl. He worked as a bartender in the Kitzloch, one of the après-ski bars in Ischgl. The Tirolean State Medical Directorate asked all bar visitors, from February 15to March 7 showing flu-like symptoms, to contact the 1450 telephone health advice service and would then be examined by a doctor. The health authority surveys had also shown that 22 people were currently close contacts of the man. They were isolated and quarantined for 14 days.
On March 7th six people in Tirol were confirmed of coronavirus.

On March 9th the health authorities announced a new case that tested positive for the coronavirus. It was a 48-year-old neighbor of Innsbruck.
After it was announced on Saturday evening that a bartender in the Landeck district had tested positive for a coronavirus disease, 16 more people tested positive on Monday. Fourteen of these sick people were tested in Ischgl, and one in the neighboring community of Kappl. In all these 15 cases, there is a direct connection to the 36-year-old bartender who worked in the Kitzloch district of Ischgl. Fourteen of these 15 people come from the immediate work environment of the 36-year-old man, and one is a close contact person from the social environment of a now sick employee of the Ischgler Bar.
On the same day, after several coronavirus diseases were confirmed, the Ischgl bar "Kitzloch" was officially closed in agreement with the operator.
A night skiing event in Ischgl scheduled was also canceled.

In Innsbruck, two further coronavirus disease persons were confirmed in the late afternoon or evening including a 21-year-old Spanish student who was tested positive. Another positive was the result of an examination of a man who attended an Erasmus student celebration. This took place on Monday, March 2nd, in the "Claudiana" in Innsbruck's old town. The Norwegian, whose coronavirus disease became known on Friday, also attended the celebration. The woman student from Norway also attended courses at the University of Innsbruck the week before. In coordination with the State Medical Directorate and the university, the respective course directors and students of the courses concerned were immediately informed. As a precaution, they were required to isolate themselves for safety for 14 days and to monitor their state of health closely. The implementation of the affected courses on-site was canceled.

On March 10th afternoon, five other positive coronavirus cases in Tirol were confirmed. Two men in Ischgl: one person stayed in the "Kitzloch" and a close contact person to a person suffering from coronavirus. Also in the "Kitzloch" was a 21-year-old from Pfunds who tested positive. Besides, a 44-year-old woman from See, who was also in Ischgl and had contact with a guest of the "Kitzloch", also fell ill.
Also, another case became known as a result of the Erasmus student celebration in Innsbruck on March 2nd. A 30-year-old woman from Innsbruck who attended the event was also tested positive.
On Tuesday 10th with 30 confirmed coronavirus cases in Tirol, four of which were related to Ischgl, the Landeck and the health authorities agreed that all après -Ski bars in Ischgl should close immediately. The regional Government decreed from Wednesday, March 11th all open-air events with over 500 participants and all indoor events with over 100 people will be canceled until early April. Sports events should take place without spectators.
In the evening a 43-year-old man from St. Anton am Arlberg tested positive for the coronavirus.
In order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, lectures at the University of Innsbruck were canceled from Tuesday, March 10th. An Innsbruck student dormitory was partially under quarantine.

On Wednesday, March 11th nine other coronavirus diseases became known in Tirol.
Four people were related to Ischgl and at least one visited the "Kitzloch" bar.
A total of nine people, between the ages of 18 and 27, were affected in Kappl, most of them come from outside Tirol and worked as ski and snowboard instructors. A 29-year-old man from Völs also fell ill after visiting the "Kitzloch" bar.
There was also a connection with the Erasmus student celebration: a 26-year-old man from Innsbruck was infected with the coronavirus there.
A 25-year-old man who attended a lecture at the University also fell ill.
Three people coming from the Innsbruck-Land, Schwaz and Imst districts tested positive after staying in Lombardy or Bolzano.
There was also a positive case in the Reutte district, a Slovak woman who works in Berwang and stayed in Ischgl for several days at the beginning of March.
At the end of the day, Tirol saw the sharpest increase in confirmed coronavirus disease since the first two positive cases two weeks earlier. The Tirolean state government announced that from Monday, March 16, students from the ninth grade will stay at home and restrictions for Compulsory school pupils and kindergarten children. Parents who can take care of their children at home were called to do so.
The Tirolean regional government decrees the closure of the Ischgl ski resort from Saturday, March 14 until further notice.March 11th ended with a total of 73 people in Tirol suffering from the coronavirus.

On the morning of March 12th, six people were tested positive in Innsbruck. At least three of them were students. A connection to the student infection chain that can be traced back to an Erasmus student party was established. Later, ten more cases were detected. Three of them were tested positive in Innsbruck and were connected to Ischgl. Five were confirmed in the Innsbruck-Land district and were related to Italy, St. Anton or Ischgl.
During the afternoon, 18 further cases became known in Tirol. A total of 15 positive test results were related to Ischgl.
A person from Galtür who attended a lecture at the University of Innsbruck, in which a person with a positive test also took part, also was confirmed positive for coronavirus.

At the end of the day, on Tuesday, March 12th, with 107 cases in Tirol, after a meeting with representatives of Tirolean tourism, the regional government of Tirol decided that the cable cars should close on Sunday, March 15, 2020, based on the Epidemic Act. Likewise, all accommodation facilities should close officially as of Monday, March 16th.
In Tirol, the Ski season had unexpectedly ended for me!!!

To be continued...

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