CORONAVIRUS SPREADS IN SWITZERLAND
4th March 2020 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on March 7th, 2020
The Engadin Ski Marathon in Graubünden is the world’s second largest cross-country skiing event. It was due to take place this weekend. Coronavirus impacts on Switzerland.
The organisers have called off the marathon and a series of other races planned for this week as part of the biggest festival of cross-country skiing in the Alps.
Almost 17,000 people from more than 60 countries were expected at five races during Engadin Marathon Week near St Moritz.
The cancelled races include the Engadin Women’s Race, which was due to be held last Sunday; the Engadin Night Race (Thursday 5th March); the St Moritz Supersprint (Friday 6th); and the Engadin Ski Marathon and Half-Marathon (Sunday 8th).
The Ski Marathon has been cancelled only twice since it began in 1969.
The decision was forced on the organisers by a ban on large-scale events introduced to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday of last week, two cases were confirmed in the Upper Engadin valley.
“We very much regret having to cancel the Engadin Marathon Week after all, but the health of our participants, our volunteers, and the general population comes first,” said Menduri Kasper, the event CEO.
The marathon trail is still groomed and all registered competitors are being told they can use it from Thursday to Sunday, despite the cancellation of the races.
The coronavirus is having a significant impact in Switzerland.
“While nowhere near as severe as in neighbouring Italy the virus is having its impact on people’s holiday plans,” said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, who was in Zermatt and Verbier this past week.
Both resorts are in the Valais canton where cases of coronavirus have been confirmed.
“The snow is good, but the outlook with Coronavirus rising is not so good as some people cancel their holidays. The businesses in both resorts are certainly concerned .”
Switzerland is said to be one of the 10 countries worldwide most affected by the coronavirus.
It has more than 50 current cases but no reported deaths.
The government has responded by categorising the situation as ‘special’ in terms of the Epidemics Act.
It has banned all events involving more than 1,000 people until at least 15th March.
The decision on whether to ban smaller events is left to the authorities in the 26 individual cantons (regions).
The Swiss media are reporting that the authorities in Bern authorities are to cancel events with fewer than 1,000 participants if the organisers are unable to prove none of the participants were in a region affected by the virus in the past 14 days.
Chur is said to be banning all events with more than 50 participants, with some exceptions.
Events that have been called off include:
- The Geneva International Motor Show,
- The Baselworld Watch Fair,
- The Basel and Ticino carnivals,
- The International Film Festival,
- The Forum on Human Rights in Geneva,
- The annual meeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency in Lausanne.
All top-flight Swiss football and ice-hockey games have also been called off.
Cases of coronavirus have so far been identified in the cantons of Aargau, Basel Land, Basel Stadt, Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Graubünden, Schwyz, Ticino, Vaud, Valais and Zurich.
All those infected with the virus have been placed in isolation.
The public health authorities are contacting people who have been in close contact with those infected.
A number of people are in quarantine in their canton of residence.
They are being told they must stay at home and avoid contact with other people.
Swiss International Airlines says the number of its short and medium-haul flights in Europe may be reduced by up to 25% in the coming weeks as a result of the accelerated spread of the virus.