Ski Resorts Contributed to the Wide Spread of Coronavirus
21st May 2020
Last modified on May 14th, 2021
That’s the view of Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. A view we agree with at PlanetSKI as we saw it unfold in the Alps.
Dr Andrea Ammon made the comments in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.
She has put forward the view that the return of skiers and snowboarders from Alpine skiing breaks in the first week of March was a pivotal moment in the spread of Covid-19 into Europe.
“Because at that time we saw new cases all over Europe and actually they had been in the skiing places in the Alps, in Italy, Austria,” she said.
“I mean this is a crowded place, the ski resorts, and then you have these cabins that you go up the mountain and these are really crammed.
“Yeah, it’s just perfect for such a virus. I mean I am pretty sure that this contributed to the wide spread in Europe.”
The case of the ski resort of Ischgl in Austria is well known as a virus-spreader.
The village had the highest concentrations of covid-19 in the whole of Austria.
It remained in full lockdown and along with the other Austrian resorts of St Anton and Soelden long after other areas saw their restrictions lifted.
They were lifted in the last week of April.
It is believed the arrival of thousands of people into the French resorts during the day on Saturday 14th March also contributed to the spread.
At 7PM that day they were told all the resorts were closing and they had to leave as soon as possible.
Our editor, James Cove, was living in northern Italy last winter as the virus spread and was monitoring the situation closely from mid-February -as a journalist and for his own personal safety.
To begin with he judged it safe to stay though by late February/early March he chose not to go to bars, restaurants and travel on crowded ski lifts.
Then he left Italy altogether in that first week of March and headed to Chamonix in France.
“I could not believe how cavalier people were in Chamonix, seemingly oblivious to the spreading of the virus,” he said.
“I opted not to ski as I thought getting into a ski lift was simply not safe and even turned down a trip to the Aiguille du Midi and down the Vallee Blanche. It was a freebie too!
“My evening meals were solo, as I avoided the crowded spaces in the busy bars and restaurants.”
And then several days ahead of the official closure of the French Alps he left.
It is interesting to see this has now been confirmed by the medical experts, but it was obvious for anyone to see with a modicum of knowledge and common sense.
Perhaps the more worrying aspect at this moment in time is that Andrea Ammon believes a second wave is coming.
She advises that the prospect of a second wave of coronavirus infection across Europe is no longer a distant theory.
“The question is when and how big, that is the question in my view,” said Dr Andrea Ammon.
Scott Fraser: I was in Aosta for 2 weeks returning on 23rd Feb. I started having cold symptoms on my way out and was more or less recovered from the cold by the end of my 2 weeks. On the coach home (Sat), I developed a dry cough and by the following Tue, I was wiped out with lethargy and a pressing headache. At the time there were no cases in Aosta but bearing in mind the time you can carry it for before symptoms is up to 2 weeks, being surrounded by Italians fm Lombardy wasn’t a good thing. Fortunately on return I felt that bad, I self isolated myself even before the advice was to do so as a precaution. My daughter was also not well 1.5 weeks after I got home but my wife was ok. However, my wife caught it from the care home she works in and tested positive 3 weeks ago with only mild symptoms fortunately. Strangely, she had the identical type of headache I had. Neither me nor my daughter had any symptoms when my wife had it but we still followed the isolation advice of 14 days fm my wife’s symptoms showing. I’m convinced I brought it back from Italy through no fault of my own and will also be interested to know if I have the antibodies.
Emma Clayton: Us too, we returned from Pila on the 23rd February and were unwell. I tried to tell my sons school not to go on the planned trip to Aosta as lots of people were ill, they still allowed the trip to go ahead one week after we returned
Marcia Nash: Thousands of people from the UK arrived in French ski resorts on Saturday 14 March for their week or 2 ski holidays only to find that the lifts had all closed at the end of that day for the rest of the season and that all bars and restaurants would be closing at midnight for the season. Of course they all went out and got drunk! Bars were packed with disappointed and pissed off skiers, who drank the bars dry. The worst thing they could have done. The UK should have stopped people traveling that day but France was also guilty of waiting until Saturday evening to tell ski resorts to close.
Kevin Isles: I don’t remember her calling for ski resorts to be closed at the time. If it was so obvious, why didn’t she do so? Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
Roland Koeck: Only because of Apres Ski…
Lorna Hunt: Had our government limited travel earlier than they did, then we wouldn’t have been forced between losing thousands or having to travel. We mitigated what risks we could whilst away but I’m sure many unintentionally brought it home.
Niven Dyer: I live in Les Deux Alpes. Lots of Italians come here. A lot of people here reckon that we’ve had it. Feb & March. Lots of us had all the symptoms. Nobody got really sick. Be interesting when we get the serology test. Pretty sure a high proportion of us will be positive for antibodies. We open the glacier on the 6th June for ski teams and for the public soon after?