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Austria is investigating a bar at a popular ski resort for allegedly not reporting a case of coronavirus.
The inquiry focuses on reports that a worker fell ill at the Ischgl resort, in the province of Tyrol, in February.
The resort has been linked to hundreds of cases in Austria, Germany and Scandinavian countries. Despite this, the slopes and bars at the resort stayed open for weeks.
On Monday Austria said it had confirmed 3,611 cases, a 19% rise in one day.
Europe is the current epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 100,000 people are confirmed to have been infected across the Continent, with Italy the worst-affected country.
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The resort in Ischgl – a small town of about 1,500 people in the Austrian Alps – is known for its nightlife and annual concerts after the close of its ski season.
Reports suggest a worker at one popular bar, Kitzloch, fell ill at the end of February. This however has not been officially confirmed.
Visitors from Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Germany and Austria all began testing positive for coronavirus after returning from the town early in March.
Governments started listing the town as an at-risk area, although local authorities played down the concerns. Kitzloch was not shut until 10 March, and the town was finally closed on 13 March.
Werner Kurz, the mayor of Ischgl, told German newspaper Der Spiegel the shut down was “a catastrophe” for the town, saying: “We implemented all regulations in a timely manner”.
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A second hotel is under lockdown as Europe tries to contain the spread of coronavirus
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Austria’s Health Minister Rudolf Anschober announced the number of tests would “massively” rise, with more regular checks for hospital staff.
“The number of tests is increasing and will continue to increase dramatically over the next two to three weeks,” he said in a statement.
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In other developments across Europe:
- The death toll in Spain reached 2,182, the government announced, after 462 people passed away in the past 24 hours
- The UK’s health secretary said people ignoring government advice were “very selfish” and warned that further action could be taken aimed at tackling the pandemic
- Italy has banned people from travelling outside the municipality they are currently in, even to return to their normal place of residence, except for urgent work or health reasons
- Russian military transport planes began delivering desperately needed ventilators, disinfection equipment and medical teams to Italy, which has the highest death toll in the world
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Austrian authorities have placed a hotel in the popular Alpine tourist region on lockdown, after a receptionist was one of two people in the country to test positive for the new COVID-19 virus, Reuters reported.
It is still unclear how many people are under lockdown in the Grand Hotel Europa in Innsbruck but the hotel has 108 rooms.
The 24-year-old woman had travelled with her partner to her hometown of Bergamo in Lombardy, Italy, an area that currently has the largest number of cases outside of Asia. The two had caught the virus there before returning to Austria.
Italy has had more than 200 infections and 11 deaths.
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The hotel is under lockdown until authorities search for the people who may have come in contact with her, according to Reuters.
“We are not describing it as locking them in but as an isolation,” a spokesman for Tyrol’s Governor Guenther Platter told Reuters.
Another hotel in the Canary Islands has gone on lockdown after one of its guest tested positive for the new coronavirus. Spanish authorities put more than a 1,000 people on lockdown at Hotel H10 Costa Adeje Palace on the island of Tenerife.
The infected individuals in this case was also visiting from Lombardy in Italy.
The coronavirus so far has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 80,000. Most cases were in mainland China, but more cases are being reported across at least 39 other countries.
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Austria quarantined 12 people in close contact with a couple who were the country’s first coronavirus cases, one of whom works as a hotel receptionist, the local government in the province of Tyrol said.
Shortly after the Italian couple tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, authorities sealed off the hotel where the woman worked in Innsbruck, the regional capital, locking in guests and staff while they tested 62 people for the virus.
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“The health condition of all 62 tested people is good,” Tyrol’s provincial government said in a statement on Wednesday, adding nine of those were put in a two-week quarantine for having been in close contact with the woman, as had three more from the couple’s immediate social circle.
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Broadcaster ORF said the nine people from the hotel were hotel staff who worked with the woman rather than guests.
A spokesman for the provincial government said the lockdown at the 108-room hotel opposite the city’s main rail station had ended overnight.
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The infected man and woman, both 24, last week visited their home town near Bergamo in Lombardy, one of the two Italian regions at the centre of Europe’s worst outbreak. They drove to Innsbruck on Friday, a hospital doctor treating them told a news conference on Tuesday.
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On Sunday night, Austria shut down rail travel between Germany and Italy by denying entry to a train from Venice because of two suspected coronavirus cases among the passengers. The train was only let through when those two passengers’ tests came back negative.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the procedure would be repeated if others suspected of carrying the virus arrived at Austria’s borders.
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While the woman works at the hotel in Innsbruck, a hub for Alpine tourism less than an hour’s drive from the Italian border, her boyfriend had been visiting, officials said.
Neighbouring Italy has become a front line in the global outbreak of the virus, with 280 cases and 11 deaths, most in Lombardy and nearby Veneto.
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The Italian couple in Innsbruck no longer have a fever and are showing “few symptoms”, the hospital doctor said.
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Tyrol is a vital transport corridor between Italy and Germany and includes the busy Brenner Pass. More than half the freight crossing the Alps passes through Austria.
The new coronavirus has killed about 2,700 people, most in China, and spread to 30 countries. The number of confirmed cases globally has risen above 80,000.