THE UK CORONAVIRUS EPIDEMIC WAS MOST PROBABLY STARTED IN JANUARY BY AN IT CONSULTANT THAT CAUGHT IT IN AN AUSTRIAN SKI RESORT
The UK’s coronavirus patient zero is an ‘IT consultant who caught the killer bug at an Austrian ski party’ and started spreading it weeks earlier than was thought.
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Daren Bland from Maresfield, East Sussex, is understood to have infected his wife Sarah and children after returning from Ischgl in mid-January.
The 50-year-old joined three friends there from January 15 to 19, with the others travelling home – two to Denmark and one to Minnesota in the US who all eventually became sick.
Prosecutors are investigating the Austrian destination for possible negligence due to hundreds of foreigners leaving with the illness and for possibly starting the whole European epidemic.
Henrik Lerfeldt has fond memories of Kitzloch, a popular restaurant and bar in the Austrian ski resort town of Ischgl, where he partied several nights while on holiday three weeks ago.
The 56-year-old Dane, speaking from his self-quarantined home 50 miles from Copenhagen last week, said that his time in Kitzloch in the Austrian province of Tyrol was the way ‘apres-ski’ is supposed to be. “Lots of people, lots of drinks, and nice waiters happy to serve you more.”
Four days after his return home, Lerfeldt tested positive for the coronavirus, or Covid-19, as did one of his friends he was travelling with. But they are just two among hundreds of people from all over Europe whose infections are traced back to Ischgl, some of them directly to Kitzloch, according to European authorities.
Despite an official warning from the Icelandic government on March 4 that a group of its nationals had contracted coronavirus in Ischgl, Austrian authorities allowed ski tourism – and the partying that goes with it – to continue for another nine days before fully quarantining the resort on March 13.
Bars in Ischgl were eventually closed on March 10.
Even after a barman tested positive for the virus, the medical authority of Tyrol – where ski tourism is one of the biggest economic drivers – reiterated in a press release on March 8 that there was “no reason to worry.”