Europe Faces Tipping Point in Battle With Covid-19

The virus is having a huge impact on skiing and snowboarding this winter, with the season perhaps over for UK-based skiers before it has even started. The World Health Organisation makes a stark assessment of the situation in Europe though there is some cause for hope.


The World Health Organisation, WHO, says more needs to be done to deal with what it calls “a tipping-point in the course of the pandemic” in Europe.

UK skiers and snowboarders are banned from entering Europe, negative tests and quarantine are required on return and international travel is only for essential reasons.

Operators are cutting holidays in the short term and the axing of ski holidays is likely to continue.

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Regional director of the WHO, Hans Kluge, now says there needs to be a greater effort in dealing with recently discovered variants of the virus.

It has been found in some alpine nations including Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria.

“This is an alarming situation, which means that for a short period of time we need to do more than we have done and to intensify the public health and social measures,” Kluge says.

He was mostly referring to the new strain of the virus first discovered in the UK, which is more contagious.

“Without increased control to slow its spread, there will be an increased impact on already stressed and pressurised health facilities,” Kluge adds.

Europe has been hard hit by the pandemic, with more than 27.6 million cases and 603,000 deaths, according to the WHO.

The organisation has already warmed of the dangers of ski resorts and skiing assisting the spread of the virus.

It has said that skiing itself does not spread coronavirus, but the activities around it in the resorts themselves do.

“There are over 1000 ski resorts across the European Region…. We know that ski resorts played a significant role in seeding the pandemic across Europe and that social gatherings were key in its resurgence during and after the summer,” said the World Health Organisation last month ahead of Xmas and the New Year.

“Skiing does not spread Covid-19, but busy mountain resorts do.”

Some skiing nations are continuing to see increasing cases, but in others the numbers are decreasing as lockdown measures have their impact.

Here are the current numbers of confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period, with the figures from 13th December 2020 in brackets for comparison.

The figure for the UK is 603 (171).

  • Sweden – 434 (387)
  • Andorra – 382 (368)
  • Switzerland – 261 (332)
  • Spain – 205 (93)
  • Italy – 187 (203)
  • Austria – 156 (227)
  • France – 127 (120)
  • Norway – 73 (49)
  • Finland – 30 (57)

Vaccine roll outs are now taking place across the ski nations, but it is just the beginning with a long, long way to go.

Elsewhere in the world, skiing and snowboarding is being affected in eastern Canada as we have reported over the weekend.

And further afield in Japan.

There has been huge levels of snow in many ski resorts, and increasing levels of coronavirus in the country.

A 4-week state of emergency has been declared in parts of the country.

Tokyo and the surrounding area is seeing a surge with a recent new daily record of more than 7,000.

About 30% of the country’s population will be covered by the new restrictions for Tokyo and Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures.

Japan has fewer infections than many other nations but cases are rising.