‘WHO’ Warns of Spread of Coronavirus with British Getting Some Blame Out in the Alps
15th January 2021
Last modified on May 20th, 2021
It comes as a British infection contributes to the cancellation of the Lauberhorn race in Wengen, a group of UK skiers was stopped at St Pancras station in London heading to Switzerland + other outbreaks in the Alps involving UK citizens occur. Some anti-British feeling rises as the UK variant spreads into the alpine nations.
A highly infectious strain that originated in the UK, has now spread to 50 countries, according to the World Health Organisation.
It has had an impact in the Alps and some Britons are beginning to be questioned for spreading the disease – accidentally or otherwise.
Since the new strain was first detected late last year, it has led to a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths in the UK.
Public Health England’s medical director, Dr Yvonne Doyle, has said there have now been more deaths in England in the second wave of the pandemic than the first.
On Wednesday the daily death toll was 1,564.
The highest recorded.
Health experts say the variant appears to be more transmissible than previous strains but is not necessarily any more dangerous.
Other countries, including South Africa and Brazil, are also reporting variants.
It is likely, but not certain, the vaccines will be as effective against these mutations of coronavirus.
One UK man in Wengen in Switzerland was the originator of 27 cases in the resort and the outbreak of Covid-19 has caused the Lauberhorn World Cup racing to be cancelled.
The ski village of Wengen had recorded no cases of the virus until October, and only ten until mid-December.
Then cases rose sharply and they were identified as the new highly infectious variant first detected in the UK.
Contact tracers found that 27 of the cases alone could be linked to one British tourist who recently stayed in a hotel in the resort.
The Lauberhorn men’s slalom, was moved to this weekend in Kitzbuhel in Austria, but that has now been moved again – this time to Flachau.
The International Ski Federation said this was “at the request of the Austrian government and the Tirol provincial government to provide more time to carry out the necessary tests to ensure a safe environment.”
The rest of the scheduled races in Kitzbuhel are currently set to go ahead as planned.
In the resort of Jochberg, that is linked to Kitzbuhel, an outbreak has occurred on a ski instructor course and the British appear to have been the main cause.
“These were people of various nationalities, mainly British citizens,” Tirol’s provincial government said in a statement.
“It then turned out that they were people of different origins – mostly British citizens. They are staying in Tirol for professional purposes as part of a ski instructor training or further education – the last travellers arrived in Tirol on December 18th.”
There are some growing concerns about the image of the British in the Alps as it follows reports of hundreds of people leaving Verbier before Xmas after being instructed to go into quarantine by the authorities.
It was not quite as reported across many news outlets, but the basic facts of some people leaving remain accurate.
Here at PlanetSKI we understand some gap year ski instructor courses are about to get underway in Verbier with attendees arriving from the UK.
All the correct regulations are being followed and strict rules are in place.
The courses go on for up to 10-weeks.
We are told some people are currently in quarantine, arranged by the course providers, and regulations are being followed to the letter.
We have spoken to several people who live in the resort year-round and they are worried about their arrival, given the new variant from the UK.
The ‘Variant Anglais’ as it has been dubbed by some.
One local in Verbier, who preferred to remain anonymous, said it was “suicide” for the resort to allow in so many people from the UK, whether the rules have been obeyed or not.
“This is a matter of life and death for goodness sake, not skiing,” the person said to us.
“We can all go skiing next winter, please let’s treat the virus seriously”.
The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes says the relationship between Switzerland and British winter tourists has recently “frosted over to some extent”.
Here at PlanetSKI we are hearing of British people in the Alps being targeted for comment by locals with some even afraid to speak English.
“I live in Interlaken. Some of my friends (and fellow Brits) actually feel uncomfortable speaking English with their children in the supermarket due to the chaos in Wengen,” was how one reader put it on Twitter.
“So, so unbelievably irresponsible and annoying. I should be in Morzine, but can’t be and this kind of conduct will only make the season impossible for others. Total PR disaster for British skiers,” commented another.
“I agree, these people and the Brits that insisted on going out pre Christmas have a part to play. But Switzerland have many people flowing through their territory to fuel this virus. They should have shut the lifts as France Italy etc.” added another reader.
Many British people are in the Alps entirely legally and some feel that this is the expected outcome for the authorities allowing resorts to open in Switzerland and Austria in the first place.
A group of UK skiers was prevented from boarding the Eurostar on Wednesday as they tried to head to Switzerland for skiing.
See here as we reported the details of the incident on Wednesday 13th January:
The incident was revealed by the train manager ‘Justin’ who gave details in a tweet.
A ski trip to Switzerland does not count as essential travel on eurostar. A group was turned away at St Pancras by the French border police this morning. The very limited reasons for travel to France can be found here: https://t.co/gCARmnet5l
Stay home! pic.twitter.com/01zbjmkC5f
— Justin on eurostar (@EurostarJustinp) January 13, 2021
Justin said a ski trip “does not count as essential travel”.
The incident at St Pancras has met with strong condemnation from PlanetSKI readers on Facebook:
Freya K-p Wilson – Seriously? What is wrong with people? It’s a pandemic. Stay at home! The only way we’re all going to get out of this soon or alive is if we stay at home!!!
Chrissie Drake – Ridiculously ignorant and hugely selfish ! Hope they were fined.
Tony Goodridge – Nutters.. What part of lock down don’t these selfish people understand?