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CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON SKIING. OUR UPDATED BLOG ON COVID-19 ROLLS ON…

We’re bringing you all the latest news on Covid-19 and its effect on the snowsports community as it happens. Our rolling blog enters another week.

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Government advice

UK Government advice

We have been updating our blog on a daily basis here on PlanetSKI with all the news on how it impacts on the world we live in and the one we love – skiing and snowboarding.

Here is last week’s page with all the news you need to know:

SATURDAY 4TH APRIL

CHINESE CLIMBERS BEGIN EVEREST EXPEDITION

The mountain is closed to all except Chinese climbers on its side of the mountain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nepal, on the other side of the mountain, has cancelled all expeditions in response to Covid-19.

More than two dozen Chinese climbers have reached the advanced base camp at an altitude of 6,450 metres.

They will now be preparing to climb up and down the mountain between camps to acclimatise themselves with the high altitude before making the final push for the summit.

It will take them around one month.

The Chinese side of Everest sees fewer climbers compared to the southern side in Nepal.

Climbers can drive right up to the base camp on the Chinese side, whereas in Nepal it is a 10-day trek through the Khumbu valley.

“It is reasonable that they do not want to take the risk to let people from all over the world, where the coronavirus crisis is in full swing, into Tibet to gather in base camp,” said Lukas Furtenbach, an Austrian climber and guide whose team was initially supposed to climb from the Chinese side.

“As long as there is no quick and reliable antibody testing available, it is a wise decision to minimise risk and only have their own people that they can take into quarantine before climbing.”

Mt Everest

Mt Everest

EASYJET UPDATE

Earlier today we posted of the difficulties some people were having trying to get a refund from the airline.

Easyjet has just issued this statement.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working hard to repatriate more than 45,000 customers from across Europe, and we will continue to work with governments to support the ongoing effort to get people home where needed.

“However, with our number one priority being the safety and wellbeing of customers and crew, and with the travel restrictions across Europe, we took the decision to temporarily ground all of our fleet of aircraft.

“This means that throughout April, there will be no easyJet flights operating anywhere on our network other than for repatriation.

“If your flight is cancelled as a result of this, I am sorry.

“Our customer service team will be in touch to let you know how to switch to a new flight, get a voucher or be reimbursed.

“We are currently dealing with an unprecedented number of calls and are working hard to try and process these as quickly as we can – however, with a number of our service centres directly affected by government restrictions, it may take longer than usual and so we thank you for your patience.

“I know that this has been a difficult and frustrating time for many of you who have had travel plans disrupted, who may have waited on calls, or who faced difficulties booking onto rescue flights, so I am sorry if this has been the case.

“Rest assured, my team and I are working around the clock trying to ease the disruption as much as we can.

“I am extremely proud of the way that everyone here, from call centre staff to the crew onboard, has given their all at such a challenging time.

“We’re missing travel as much as anyone and will continue to evaluate when we can start flying again. As soon as we can do so safely, we’ll be back in the skies again – proudly taking you on your holidays, business trips, and weekends away with friends and loved ones.

“Until then, I wanted to say thank you for your support and understanding.  Please look after yourselves, and we look forward to warmly welcoming you back on board one day soon.”

Johan Lundgren
CEO, easyJet

AND THE WINNERS ARE…

The FIS Alpine World Cup e-Finals took place from 18th -22nd March, the weekend that the FIS Alpine World Cup Finals should have taken place in Cortina in Italy.

They were held on the FIS World Cup Ski Racing mobile app instead.

Players competed in slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill on the ‘original’ Cortina slopes.

FIS Alpine World Cup e-Finals

FIS Alpine World Cup e-Finals

The results of the e-gaming weekend have now been released by FIS and its partner Session Games.

In total, 186,174 races were completed over five days.

There was an average of 26 races per player.

Players came from 87 countries with Switzerland being the country with the most active gamers.

Canada, Austria and Italy tied for second place.

The most successful player was “Darthdadbod” from Canada, who topped the overall standings with 380 points.

Besides the overall win, “Darthdadbod” also claimed second place in the slalom standings, won the giant slalom rankings as well as the super-G and the downhill disciplines and earned the main prize of two VIP tickets for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina next year.

The player “Greta Thunberg” from Switzerland won the slalom rankings.

She was awarded with original Leki Venom Slalom poles autographed by Stefan Luitz.

“Breezy Wilson” from Canada collected a pair of Fischer RC4 CT skis.

“JSW” from Austria won Head Supershape E-Speed Skis

“Jannalaui” from Switzerland also won a pair of skis.

In total, the e-Game now has 105,000 downloads and has generated 144,000,000 impressions.

Other special racing weekends or actions will be planned on FIS Ski Racing in the future.

AIRLINES COMING UNDER FIRE OVER REFUNDS

Some customers are demanding that airlines make it easier to claim a refund for cancelled flights.

EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet and many thousands of skiers and snowboarder had flights booked for the busy Easter and end-of-season period.

EasyJet which us used by many skiers is facing particular criticism as rebooking is done online but if passengers want a refund of their money they need to call customer services and getting through is near impossible.

See here for our related story on getting a refund not just from an airline, but a tour operator or your insurance company.

Planes grounded

Planes grounded

FRIDAY 3RD APRIL

Good point, well made

Good point, well made

DISABILITY SNOWSPORT UK URGENT APPEAL

The snowsports charity has today launched a fund raising initiative with a target of £50,000.

With the coronavirus restrictions in place much of its funding has dried up.

“Disabled people are more likely to experience isolation, limitations and frustrations in their normal lives and Covid19 makes this even harder,” said Disability Snowsport UK.

“With your support we can ensure that we are still here to help get disabled people back to freedom asap.”

See here for how you can help

Statement from DSUK:

Many of us across the world are feeling trapped in our homes and are no longer able to experience life as we used to only a few short weeks ago.

Even if we manage to leave our homes, the outside world might not be able to meet our needs, and many of us are experiencing anxiety when weighing up the risks associated with stepping out of the front door.

For many of Disability Snowsport UK’s skiers and snowboarders these were the challenges they faced before Covid-19, challenges that DSUK has helped them to address.

When DSUK began in the 1970s it was with the purpose of using snowsport as rehabilitation, and since then we have learnt it means even more than that to our participants and their families.

On top of bringing physical, mental health and social benefits that translate into other areas of their lives, it means freedom.

Working with DSUK, disabled people get to choose their line, their speed, and get to feel the sheer exhilaration of the rushing ice-cold wind on their face as they learn to master the mountain.

And now, during the current crisis, some of our skiers and snowboarders belong to high-risk and at-risk groups and are facing enhanced restrictions and isolation.

We want to ensure they can get back to freedom as soon as it is safe to do so, to rebuild confidence, independence, social networks and health benefits that they may have lost.

We understand Covid-19 is hitting us all hard and we are no exception.

With a significant drop in income as a result of not being able to deliver lessons, and having no choice but to cancel critical fundraising events, we need any support you are able to give.

We believe that the British snowsport community is kind, caring and inclusive and we are confident you will help us to continue our vital work.

1.5 million people made it to the mountains last season, it would only take a small donation from each of you to help us to bring the freedom and health benefits that only snowsport can bring to disabled people across the UK.

Disability Snowsport UK

Disability Snowsport UK

FRENCH POLICE CLAMPDOWN ON CLIMBERS

Police in France are cracking down on climbers who disobey self-isolation and quarantine orders.

In France it is illegal to leave one’s home except for essential work, doctors’ visits, daycare, going to the grocery store, or taking care of the elderly.

Some have been fined €135

The  Jausiers High Mountain Police (PGHM Jausiers).

Police have posted this image of Facebook as a warning.

Climbers in France

Climbers in France

Jausiers High Mountain Gendarmerie Platoon’s Facebook post said “This guy’s irresponsible behaviour mobilise our energy and can lead, if injuries were to occur, to deprive an infected person of a bed.”

PRODUCTION OF CORONA BEER HALTED

The Mexican brewer that makes Corona beer is stopping production due to new government restrictions.

Cervecería Modelo, which produces the beer, has been declared a non-essential business by the government.

Work has been suspended until 30 April as part of measures to try to stop the virus from spreading.

Corona is exported to 180 countries and production will stop on Sunday.

Corona beer

Corona beer

VAL THORENS OFFERS COLOURING FOR THE KIDS

Stuck out home with the young ones and need a distraction?

See more here.

Val Thorens in colour

Val Thorens in colour

THURSDAY 2ND APRIL

CORTINA WORLD CUP FINAL TROPHIES AUCTIONED TO FIGHT COVID-19

The Championships were cancelled and so the organisers want to raise money for a local hospital at the front line of dealing with coronavirus in northern Italy.

The prizes are 14 beautiful handmade glass plates crafted — continuing the historical tradition of the Cortina Classic — by Pio Alverà, one of the most renowned local craft workshops, which uses resins and other natural and local materials.

Each plate is a unique piece and bears the words ‘Cortina 2020 Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals’ with the name of one of the events that were to be held in Cortina.

The auction takes place from Tuesday 31st March to Thursday 9th April.

Follow this link to make a bid.

World Cup Final Trophies

World Cup Final Trophies

The starting auction price for each plate is €50.

The money raised will go to the hospital of Belluno – AULSS 1 Dolomiti, the main health care facility in the Province of Belluno.

ANDORRA TO TEST ALL ITS CITIZENS

The principality of Andorra high up in the Pyrenees, and home to many ski resorts in the mountain range, is to test its entire population.

According to the news site ARA, health minister Joan Martínez Benazet says all 77,000 citizens of the state will get antibody tests.

Andorra has 390 confirmed cases with 14 deaths.

The first case was confirmed on March 2nd, a 20-year old man who had returned from Milan in Italy.

Andorra, Pyrenees

Andorra, Pyrenees

DONATING SKI GOGGLES TO FIGHT COVID-19

Goggles for Docs is asking people in the USA to donate goggles to health care workers who lack eye protection.

Some hospitals have requested them including ten in New York and two in Connecticut.

A doctor from New York, Mike Halpero, called Steamboat in Colorado and asked if there were some spare goggle he could have.

His aunt and uncle sent on the request to a handful of friends in other ski towns, who sent it to more friends and it has snowballed from there.

People can go to the website, pick a state, then choose a hospital tab within the spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet information shows how many goggles the hospital needs, how many they have received and where to mail the goggles.

Goggles should be wiped down and placed in a sealed ziploc bag before mailing.

See here for further information: gogglesfordocs

Goggles for docs

Goggles for docs

31 MAJOR INSURERS STOP TRAVEL POLICIES AS PANDEMIC SPREADS

The consumer organisation Which?  has found that 31 of the UK’s 75 major insurers have pulled out of the travel insurance market.

Existing customers who booked their trips and purchased their insurance before the outbreak, or before insurers amended their terms to exclude claims related to coronavirus, should still be able to claim.

“Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the travel insurance market, with dozens of providers amending policies or pulling them altogether,” said Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?

“This is creating confusion and uncertainty for consumers, who may feel they simply can not make plans for future trips in the circumstances.

“The government, insurers and the travel industry must work together to tackle the huge challenge posed by coronavirus, to ensure people feel confident enough to travel in the knowledge that they will be covered.”

See this related PlanetSKI story as we look at how people can claim on their ski holidays.

Coronavirus: claiming for you cancelled ski trip

INTERSPORT VIDEO

“It’s such a shame that winter 2019/20 was cut short,” said our good friends over at Intersport.

“But here’s looking forward to 2020/21 and helping our AMAZING emergency services in the meantime.”

We're so Sorry that Winter was Cut Short

It's such a shame that winter 2019/20 was cut short. But here's looking forward to 2020/21 and helping our AMAZING emergency services in the meantime

Posted by Intersport Rent on Wednesday, 1 April 2020

WEDNESDAY 1ST APRIL

MIKAELA SHIFFRIN AUCTIONS WORLD CUP BIB FOR COVID-19 RELIEF IN COLORADO

She is selling an autographed slalom winner’s bib from Killington in Vermont to the highest bidder.

Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin

The American, a double Olympic champion, did not win the overall crystal globe this year after the death of her father made her take a break from competing.

She was set to return in Åre in Sweden before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

All proceeds from the bib will help towards response and recovery in Colorado, and assist with the prevention of the spread.

Her auction can be found here.

The highest bid so far is $2,850.

Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin

TUI CUSTOMERS  BACK AT HOME

TUI completes ‘mammoth’ task to bring 45,000 holidaymakers home

The travel giant includes the UK’s largest ski tour operator Crystal Ski Holidays.

It has now flown its 45,000 holidaymakers home, including those stranded at ski resorts as they closed.

TUI cabin crew and 362 flight crew team members put in over 11,000 flying hours to get people.

Its 58 aircraft will now be parked up at UK airports including London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Doncaster, Newcastle, East Midlands and Bristol.

TUI plane

TUI plane

STATEMENT FROM SKI SOLUTIONS:

“In these strange and unprecedented times, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our clients and followers for their continued support, patience and kind words.

“We hope you are all keeping well.

“Whilst we may not be able to travel to the mountains just yet – we won’t stop dreaming and hope to offer you thought and inspiration for the journeys to come.

“We will continue to share with you a welcome dose of the great outdoors through our expert pick of engaging reads, videos and photography from the world of ski.

“It is more important than ever to all join together as a community and share our love for skiing during these uncertain times.

“Like you, we cannot wait to get back out to the mountains, but for now, while we are all at home let’s enjoy a sense of escapism and dream of fresh corduroy slopes and endless powder.

Best wishes

Craig Burton
Managing Director

See here for more on Ski Solutions.

Ski Solutions

Ski Solutions

VAIL RESORTS BOSS DONATES $2.5 MILLION TO SUPPORT EMPLOYEES AND MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES + 50,000 LBS. OF FOOD

Vail Resorts’ CEO, Rob Katz, and his wife, Elana Amsterdam have given the money to Vail Resorts employees and the mountain towns where the company operates.

Katz will donate $1.5 million in immediate emergency relief grants.

An additional $1 million is being donated by Katz to create a new fund within Vail Resorts’ EpicPromise Employee Foundation, which helps the company’s employees respond to unpredictable setbacks, including medical events.

This fund will help meet the increased need for assistance due to the impacts of COVID-19, ensuring that the Foundation has the resources to address this challenge.

“I cannot recall another moment in my lifetime that has caused so much disruption to our lives – to our work, to our health and to our communities,” said Katz.

“Throughout this incredibly challenging time, two of our absolute priorities have been, and will continue to be, the health and wellbeing of our employees and mountain communities.

“What makes our resorts so special is where they’re located and the passionate people who live there.

“As we navigate this situation, it’s essential we continue to support our employees and the vitality of our communities, providing partnership when it’s needed most.”

However Vail Resorts has also come under sharp criticism for asking some employees to leave resorts so quickly, with some having no-where else to go.

More than 50,000 pounds of excess food has been donated to 30 local food banks, schools, and community organisations in the places we live, work, and play.

Deliveries of items like fruits, vegetables, cheeses, juices, and granola bars have gone to mountain communities across the continent.

Rob Katz & Elana Amsterdam

Rob Katz & Elana Amsterdam

REVELSTOKE, CANADA

Revelstoke Mountain Resort in Canada said it is seeing many people ski touring on Mount Mackenzie..

Access to the mountain is currently prohibited and Revelstoke Mountain Resort closed March 16 due to COVID-19 concerns.

The resort says the closure is in place for several safety concerns, including high avalanche risk.

All avalanche control has been suspended and Avalanche Canada has ceased forecasting for the remainder of the winter.

The resort said failure to respect the closure could result in permanent loss of future skiing privileges at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

“For your safety and ours, please stay home,” said resort in a statement.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort closed March 16 due to COVID-19 concerns.

See our related story from the USA here:

More calls for US uphill skiers to stop risking themselves and stretching emergency services fighting coronavirus

Revelstoke, Canada

Revelstoke, Canada

GOOD POINT, WELL MADE

Public Service Message

Public Service Message

TUESDAY 31ST MARCH

LOOKING GOOD IN INNSBRUCK THIS MORNING

The city is under lockdown, but remains one of our favourite places in the mountains.

Innsbruck, the Tirol

Innsbruck, the Tirol

TELLURIDE SKI RESORT IN COLORADO AIMS TO TEST ALL OF ITS 8,000 RESIDENTS FOR COVID-19

It is the first community in the USA to try to do such a thing.

A small town in Italy did a similar thing reduced transmission by 90%.

Town officials are using the so-called ELISA tests, which detect antibodies against coronavirus and it being rolled out by the company United Biomedical.

When a person is infected with Covid-19 their immune system develops antibodies within 10 days.

Most current testing only identifies people that are actively infected, rather than those that have already had it.

Telluride, Colorado

Telluride, Colorado

The story is being reported on ABC News.

The goal of the testing is to identify and contain community spread of the virus by providing an accurate picture of how widespread the disease is so measures can be taken accordingly.

The strategy would be similar to what was done in Vo Euganeo, a small Italian town that tested all 3,300 of its residents for COVID-19.

It reduced transmission by 90% and, after isolating the last remaining few COVID-19 positive cases, Vo Euganeo re-opened.

“Our goal is to show what mass testing, social distancing and isolation can do together to stop the spread of infection, and to create a model that could save lives worldwide,” said Mei Mei Hu and Louis Reese.

They are the co-founders of c19, the subsidiary of United Biomedical that developed the antibody test.

The company is starting with Telluride because Reese and Hu have a residence there.

Testing started last week with health care workers, first responders, teachers and their families.

The testing is being done in conjunction with the San Miguel County’s Department of Public Health and Environment.

So far, no one who has received the antibody test has tested positive, but one person was confirmed to have COVID-19 through a diagnostic test.

THAI KING ISOLATES HIMSELF AND ENTOURAGE IN GERMAN SKI HOTEL

According to the German tabloid newspaper, Bild, he has a harem of 20 women with him in the alpine resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

67-year old King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X, is reported to have taken over the entire Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl.

Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl, Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany

Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl

Hotels are closed in Germany, but he received special permission as the party is a single group.

There has been sharp criticism from some quarters back in Thailand where people face long jail terms for criticising the monarchy.

The king is a keen cyclist and there are reports that he has been out cycling.

It is understood he owns a large holiday home 25 miles away by Lake Starnberg and is a frequent visitor to Bavaria.

BA GROUNDS ALL GATWICK FLIGHTS

“Due to the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment, like many other airlines, we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick,” said the airline in a statement

The owner of BA, IAG, recently announced three-quarters of flights will be cut over the next two months also said it was ‘taking actions to reduce operating expenses and improve cash flow’.

IAG has extended BA’s Revolving Credit Facility for a year from June 23 2020 to June 23 2021, allowing it to borrow an extra $1.38 billion if needed during that time frame.

British Airways logo

British Airways

Easyjet, that operates out of Gatwick, grounded its entire fleet yesterday as we reported lower down this rolling blog.

COLORADO SKI RESORT ORGANISATION WARNS OF ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF CORONAVIRUS

Colorado Ski Country USA has described the closing of all the ski resorts in the state as “a body blow”.

It represents 23 ski areas in the state.

March is usually one of the busiest months for Colorado resorts, which saw a record 13.8 million skier visits last winter.

Resorts generate 25% to 30% of their revenue from March through to the end of the season,

The snowsport industry contributes between $5 billion and $6 billion each year to the economy

“This is an unprecedented scenario for our industry, for the entire travel industry, for the entire country,” said the President and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, Melanie Mills

“We’re trying to maintain optimism while we deal with some real significant consequences here in the short- and mid-term.”

The resorts in Colorado were closed on March 14th by order of the state governor, Jared Polis.

“For those of us who treasure living our lives outdoors, sacrificing our fun is the easier part,” said Jared Polis.

“But for those who depend on employment in our Colorado high country, the uncertainty of how long they will be out of a job is terrifying.”

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen, Colorado

FUNDRAISER FOR US PARALYMPIC SKI & SNOWBOARD TEAM CALLED OFF

It was due to take place at Vail in Colorado but has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic

This year’s event was due to take place at Vail Ski Resort in Colorado,  but has now been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A virtual silent auction is being held instead with prizes ranging from electronics to outdoor gear.

Money raised will go towards training, equipment and travel.

MONDAY 30th MARCH

MASKS TO BE COMPULSORY IN AUSTRIA SUPERMARKETS

It is to be done to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The masks will be handed out with 48-hours.

“As of the moment these masks are handed out in front of supermarkets, it will be compulsory to wear them in supermarkets,” said the Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.

However, the World Health Organisations says people only need to wear face masks if they are sick and showing symptoms, or if they are caring for people who are suspected to have coronavirus.

See this story on the BBC how, and if, face masks are useful.

DAUGHTER OF EX GB SKI RACER ON THE CORONAVIRUS FRONT LINE

The former GB ski racer, Martin Bell, has posted on Facebook about his pride in the work his daughter, Imogen, is currently doing.

“Very proud of my daughter Imogen, who is working as an ICU specialist nurse for the NHS.”

ICU nurse Imogen, daughter of Martin Bell

Imogen at work

And brother Graham, the presenter of the BBC’s Ski Sunday, has been back on skis.

At home in Henley-upon-Thames.

“The legendary Hausenkamm, the most challenging course on the World Cup tour,” is how he describes the experience.

The legendary Hausenkamm, the most challenging course on the World Cup tour. #skisunday filmed on @gopro @goprouk @decathlonuk @bolle_eyewear @atomicsnowuk

Posted by Graham Bell on Sunday, 29 March 2020

 

And this is how he normally does it for Ski Sunday – the Lauberhorn course in Wengen, Switzerland, back in January.

POV of Wengen DH

Posted by Graham Bell on Friday, 17 January 2020

 

NORWEGIAN SKI ASSOCIATION LAYS OFF STAFF

It has temporarily laid off 96 employees as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis.

That represents 66% of the workforce.

“The situation for the NSB is very serious, and I cannot rule out the need for further measures to ensure the operation when the state of emergency is one day over,” said secretary general of the Norwegian Ski Association, Ingvild Bretten Berg.

“The goal now is to take quick enough measures to secure jobs so that we can resume normal operations and continue as normal as possible when this is over.

“In a difficult time not only for us, but also for many around us, it is important to take care of each other as best we can.”

Norwegian Ski Association

Norwegian Ski Association

The International Ski Federation has warned there are “deep financial consequences” from the coronavirus pandemic and warned uncertainty for the sporting industry.

FUNDRAISER FOR US PARALYMPIC SKI & SNOWBOARD TEAM CALLED OFF

This year’s event was due to take place at Vail Ski Resort in Colorado,  but has now been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

A virtual silent auction is being held instead with prizes ranging from electronics to outdoor gear.

Money raised will go towards training, equipment and travel.

EASYJET GROUNDS ENTIRE FLEET

EasyJet is based at Gatwick airport and has 331 planes.

In normal times it serves 159 airports and 1,051 routes, some of them hub airports for the ski resorts in Europe.

The airline said it had made the move due to the “unprecedented travel restrictions” imposed by governments globally due to the coronavirus pandemic.

EasyJet

EasyJet grounds its entire fleet

No date has been given on when the airline may fly again.

It is likely the airline will ask for a government bail-out.

EasyJet said staff would be paid 80% of their wage from 1 April through the government’s job retention scheme.

The budget airline’s boss Johan Lundgren said he was “working tirelessly” to make sure the airline was “well positioned to overcome the challenges of coronavirus.”

“I am extremely proud of the way in which people across EasyJet have given their absolute best at such a challenging time,” he added.

SOME SKI RESORTS IN USA APPEAR TO HAVE HIGH CONCENTRATIONS OF COVID-19

In the USA there are a number of coronavirus hotspots in ski areas.

It is claimed that Vail in Colorado has been identified as the location from where Mexico received its first confirmed cases for coronavirus.

A report on Bloomberg claims an outbreak of COVID-19 in Mexico has been traced back to 400 travellers who chartered planes to ski in Vail.

Mexican media claimed the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships as a likely contagion spot, citing people who attended the event and are now sick.

The competition was held February 24th – 29th in Vail.

The state heath department has said there has been “extensive spread of COVID-19 in a number of Colorado mountain resort communities,”

Health officials in Colorado are warning that small communities near several ski resorts simply don’t have the resources to treat patients.

Numbers from Johns Hopkins University indicate that Blaine County in Idaho has the highest concentration rate of cases outside New York City and its surrounding counties.

It is home to Sun Valley ski resort.

Idaho, USA

Idaho, USA

The county has 80 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

At least 14 of the cases in the rural county of roughly 22,000 people involved health care workers, and at least two people have died from COVID-19.

The county includes the ski resort of Sun Valley Resort and draws skiers from around the world.

In Utah the ski town of Park City has also had high per-capita infection rates according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

SUNDAY 29th MARCH

Looking to the future in the Tirol….

Tirol coronavirus message

See you later….

LAUSANNE 2020 FACILITIES USED IN SWISS CORONAVIRUS BATTLE

The Vortex which was the Athletes’ Village for the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne in January is being used to house doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.

It has been used since March 19th.

It was set to become university accommodation, but it has been turned into a place for health professionals to stay amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Swiss death toll has risen to 257.

The number of confirmed cases has increased to 14,336 from 13,213.

This places Switzerland among the top European countries by number of cases, behind Italy, Spain, Germany, France and the UK.

Lausanne Youth Olympics 2020

Lausanne Youth Olympics 2020

TREKKERS STRANDED IN HIMALAYAS

Hundreds of trekkers are reported to be stranded in Nepal due to a nationwide lockdown designed to contain the coronavirus spread.

There are about 500 foreign trekkers on at least four trekking routes unable to return due to the lockdown.

The authorities are working with multiple government agencies to rescue the trekkers and bring them to Kathmandu, so their embassies can fly them home.

A number of Australians appear to be among those still in Nepal during the lockdown.

Reports on the Australians Stranded in Nepal Facebook group say authorities are working to return tourists to Nepal’s capital.

Australians stranded in Nepal - photo Brad Fleet

Australians stuck in Nepal – photo Brad Fleet

The UK Foreign Office said it was working “around the clock” to support British travellers stranded in India amid a government lockdown.

SCOTTISH CURLER BACK TO WORK AS NURSE

European silver medallist, Vicky Wright, is a part-time general surgical nurse and has returned to work in healthcare.

The 26-year old was in Canada with the team when the Women’s World Curling Championship in Prince George was cancelled.

Vicky Wright - photo British Curling

Vicky Wright – photo British Curling

“The bigger picture was that helping out at home was more important just now,” she said.

“When we flew into Prince George after a few days training in Vancouver we were starting to become aware that the worldwide situation was changing and a few doubts and uncertainty about whether our Championships would go ahead started to creep in.

“We could see how everything was quickly changing and we knew there were other much bigger priorities than sporting events which are now on the back burner.

“They have to take second place to what is happening just now and when I went into work last week at the hospital it really sank in.”

Vicky Wright - photo British Curling

Vicky Wright – photo British Curling

“In my nursing career over the years I always felt it was a privilege to be with someone and look after them when they were unwell and vulnerable and it has always made me appreciate the life I have, being able to work as a nurse in a job I love and also compete in curling – a sport I love.

“My nursing was full time and I juggled my curling around that, but in July 2019 my curling went full time.

“Both the NHS and British Curling enabled me to do one shift a week throughout this season.

“It was something I really enjoyed and I didn’t want to lose my skills and it was good to have something else other than just curling, it really kept me grounded

“This season was great for us and we found our feet from the start and we really settled into our positions within the team and we were all committed to the same goals and wanted the same outcomes.

“Now it is time to make a difference in a different way and I will now play my part in a much bigger team.

“My parents feel the same way as me. My mum works in the NHS and my dad is a fireman, so like me they like to do their part. It is what we are all about and I am really glad I can go and do my bit.”

The Matterhorn.

Zermatt & the Matterhorn, Switzerland

Zermatt & The Matterhorn, Switzerland

Coronavirus message on The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn, Switzerland

Every evening this past week, it has been beaming out messages about the coronavirus outbreak – “Stay at Home” one evening, “Hope” the next.

That last message of hope is particularly needed as cases in Switzerland pass 12,000.

More than 200 patients have died from the virus in a country of 8.5m people – a death rate that is only slightly below that of France.

The Matterhorn, Switzerland

The Matterhorn, Switzerland

The Matterhorn, Switzerland

The Matterhorn, Switzerland

Resort statement:

“With the illumination, Zermatt wants to give people a sign of hope and solidarity in this difficult time of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Just like the motto ‘Light is hope’.

“The village shows solidarity with all people who are currently suffering and is grateful to all those who are helping to overcome the crisis.

“This includes the medical staff, all those who ensure the logistics and the supply of the population as well as all those who stay at home out of consideration and adapt their daily routine and tasks to the circumstances.”

The Matterhorn – or Monte Cervino – has also been lit up with the Italian flag, in solidarity with the nation on the other side of the mountain.

Monte Cervino lit up with the Italian flag

Monte Cervino, Italy

UK SEASONAL WORKERS BACK HOME FROM QUARANTINE IN AUSTRIA

A total of 260 British people, most of whom are seasonal workers in ski resorts, were able to fly home from Austria on Saturday.

They were unable to leave when the authorities closed the resorts such as Ischgl and St Anton with immediate effect 2 weeks ago and put all residents and workers under 14-day quarantine.

Guests were allowed to leave but not the seasonal workers, many of whom worked for the UK tour operators in the resorts.

See here for our full story as they returned home:

GRIM DAY, BUT SOME GOOD NEWS

Italy has now had 10,023 fatalities after 889 people died in the last 24 hours.

The country has now seen 92,472 cases, with 70,065 currently infected and 12,384 having recovered.

Spain’s coronavirus death toll rose by 832 in 24 hours, bringing it to 5,690.

However, the number of people recovering is also increasing, with a total of 12,285 out of over 72,000 cases

In Italy a 101-year-old man has recovered.

The man, in Rimini, who has been identified only as ‘Mr P’, was discharged from hospital after being admitted last week and testing positive for Covid-19.

Gloria Lisi, Rimini’s deputy mayor, said that his “truly extraordinary” recovery gave “hope for the future”.

“Mr. P made it,” she added.

“The family brought him home, to teach us that even at 101 years the future is not written.”

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