The Austrian Tyrolean authorities downplayed the dangers of the coronavirus, even though they were aware of the risks in private discussions, the news agency AFP reports. The revelation relies on leaked documents such as messages, emails and meeting notes. According to the news agency, there are thousands of pages.
At the Ischgl ski resort, more than 6,000 tourists from 45 countries became infected in the spring and set out to spread the virus to their home countries.
One of the most aggravating evidence against the authorities is, according to AFP, the meeting that followed the first infection and the subsequent information.
On March 7, one bar worker from Kitzloch Bar received a positive test result. He was reportedly the first to be confirmed ill at the center. The next morning the Tyrolean Health Authority Anita Luckner-Hornischer said at a meeting of the state crisis committee, according to the minutes, a lot of new bar-related infections are likely to be expected.
Only hours after the meeting, however, the authorities put out a bulletin that spoke another language.
– The transmission of the virus to other customers of the bar is quite unlikely from a medical point of view, Luckner-Hornischer was quoted in a press release written by the PR department.
That Kitzloch bar was so full of people at the time of the after-skin that the staff had to blow the whistle to accommodate the passage in the middle of the crowd. The going was quite blatant in terms of infectious disease. According to AFP, one drinking game was spitting ping-pong balls from the mouth into the drinks of others.
The bar did not close until all its staff had become infected. Nevertheless, the rest of Ischgl’s restaurant life continued to operate normally. The destination had an estimated 10,000 tourists.
Tyrol had even been warned in early March when Icelandic authorities reported that more than a dozen tourists visiting Ischgl had carried the virus. Two of these pondered in public that they may have been infected by air travel.
This was seized by one of the Tyrolean regional leaders, Markus Maass.
– It would be important to include them (comments) in a press release if appropriate. For we would get Ischgl out of the line of fire, Maass wrote in an email.
An official press release issued on 5 March was headed: “Icelandic guests in the Tyrolean Oberland region were most likely to get the coronavirus on their return flight”.
According to the documents received by AFP, the authorities were mainly concerned about Tirlol’s reputation.
It was not until the number of cases began to rise dramatically that the Austrian administration decided to close the entire valley on 13 March, six days after the Kitzloch bartender was found infected.
Authorities have denied numerous times that they have made any mistakes in dealing with the corona epidemic. The Tyrolean Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the tangle.
Maass and the governor of Ischgl Werner Kurz as well as at least two others are under investigation. They are suspected of either intentionally or negligently endangering people with an infectious disease.
The Tyrolean administration has refused to comment on the revelations to the Austrian media.