Horrible images show British skiers unwittingly partying at a bar at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Austria, more than a month after the disease was first diagnosed there.
The film, obtained by MailOnline, shows that holidaymakers get shots at the Kitzloch bar, Ischgl in late February, where a 36-year-old German bartender is believed to have fallen ill with Covid-19 that same week.
Other exclusive videos show partygoers dancing at the nearby Schatzi bar in March, during the crucial few days when local politicians are said to have been told about a possible outbreak, but silenced it.
Iceland had declared Ischgl a risk area on March 5 and placed it in the same category as Wuhan and Iran after returning tourists tested positive. But it was not until March 13 that the Austrian government closed the area.
Vacationers who filmed the exclusive footage told MailOnline that many people at the resort suffered from a dry cough, which they had posted. There was no alarm at the time.
Scott Phiminster, 45, filmed his friends partying in Ischgl during the pivotal days when Austrian authorities were reportedly informed of the risk of a coronavirus outbreak but had not closed the resort
Ischgl, also known as the ‘Ibiza of the Alps’, is now at the center of a criminal investigation after hundreds of infections were detected in Germany, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Great Britain.
Ischgl, also known as ‘Ibiza of the Alps’, is now at the center of a criminal investigation after hundreds of infections were detected in Germany, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Great Britain.
Icaland issued his March 5 warning after several people positively returned from vacation at the resort. But Austrian health officials blamed the outbreak of a passenger on the plane.
On March 7, it was determined that a German bartender in the Kitzloch pub had coronavirus. He was said to have fallen ill in late February, when British skiers were filmed partying at the bar where he worked.
The next day, health ministers in Norway announced that 491 of their 1198 cases had recently started skiing in the region.
A leaked text message appeared to show that local politicians were aware of the March 9 outbreak in Ischgl, but told tourist companies to hide it. As the images from MailOnline show, the local pubs were busy during this period.
Holidaymakers who filmed the exclusive footage and later became unwell themselves told MailOnline about their anger at unwittingly contracting the deadly virus and spreading it to others.
“I organized a ski trip for boys for nine of us between the ages of 32 and 52,” said Scott Phimister, 45. “There was a cough around and we discussed it with other ski groups.
“We all decided it was only because of the dry air and the altitude. Many elderly people were on vacation and they really suffered.
Mr Phiminster, bottom right, and his friends enjoy beer unaware of the Covid-19 threat
Mr Phiminster, fourth from the left, poses with his friends in the popular ski resort
The Kitzloch bar in Ischgl is central to the investigation after a bartender was tested positive on March 7 after allegedly falling ill at the end of February
“Later, most of us became unwell. If the authorities had acted responsibly, we might have avoided it. ‘
Mr. Phimister’s videos, which show crowds of revelers in the Schatzi bar, were taken between March 8 and March 11. He and his eight friends all developed coronavirus symptoms after returning from Ischgl.
“I had a fever for three days,” the father of two from Paisley said. “I was sweating so much that my T-shirt would have stuck to the window.
“I isolate myself and feel better now, although I still have chest pain when I breathe heavily.
“Now my wife is sick and my 13-year-old daughter has a sore throat.”
Daren Bland, 50, of Maresfield, East Sussex, reportedly infected his wife Sarah (pictured) and children after returning from Ischgl in mid-January
Mr. Phiminster’s friends pose at the bottom of a ski slope in Ischgl, unaware of the virus threat
Police are maintaining a roadblock at Ischgl, believed to be the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe
An investigation has been launched into whether an outbreak of the disease was glossed over to protect trade surrounding local elections. In the photo: police outside Ischgl
The Kitzloch bar in the ‘Ibiza of the Alps’
Punters from all over the world flock to the Kitzloch bar in the ‘Ibiza of the Alps’.
They drink and dance on the tables until the early hours while enjoying their vacation.
Others spread saliva while playing beer pong on the tables below or being shot by one of the many waiters.
The revelers are all tightly packed and, as Mr. Bland says, people are “hot and sweaty … the perfect home for a virus.”
About 1,000 are now locked up in the popular Ischgl resort after the area closed on March 14.
Mayor Werner Kurz told German magazine Spiegel: “It is essentially a disaster for Ischgl. We are not yet talking about the economic consequences.
“We will overcome them, just as we have been able to overcome floods and avalanches in the past.”
The other members of his party had similar symptoms, he added, some of which were worse than others.
“A boy was struggling to put on his socks, his breathing was so bad,” said Mr. Phimister. “Another friend’s mother is now in the hospital and has tested positive for coronavirus.”
Phimister and his friends returned to Britain after the Austrian authorities finally took action and the resort closed on March 13.
“All security personnel and police at the airport in Austria wore masks and gloves when we left,” he said. “But when we arrived at Edinburgh Airport, there was no mask on display.
“The message had clearly not yet got through to Britain. None of the boys have any idea how many people we infected before we got the symptoms and isolated themselves. ‘
The bottom line is that Daren Bland, 50, of Maresfield, East Sussex, reportedly infected his wife Sarah and children after returning from Ischgl in mid-January.
He joined three friends there from January 15 to 19. Two of them later went home to Denmark and one to Minnesota in the United States. They were all unwell.
Ischgl is known for its vibrant après-ski nightlife. Artificial snow extends the season to early May and drinking games are common in the many bars and continue into the wee hours.
It is believed that drinking games such as ‘beer pong’, where participants take turns spitting the same table tennis ball into a beer glass, may have accelerated the spread of the virus.
German media have labeled Ischgl as “the breeding ground” of the coronavirus, while Norway believes nearly half of the cases in the country have been imported from there.
There have been at least 1,020 infections in the city, which is home to about 1,500 people. Vienna, the country’s capital, with 2 million inhabitants, on the other hand, reported only 456 cases.
The popular holiday resort of Ischgl, in the province of Tyrol, Austria is blamed for hundreds of cases of coronavirus in Europe
Europe has become the new epicenter of the pandemic, with more than 100,000 confirmed infections across the continent. Italy accounts for more than half of the cases.
Tourists from Scandinavia, Germany, and other parts of Austria were identified with the disease after returning from Ischgl in early March.
However, the local authorities have alleviated their concerns. Werner Kurz, the mayor of Ischgl, told German newspaper Der Spiegel that the closure was “a catastrophe” for the city and said, “We implemented all the regulations in a timely manner.”
Mr. Bland said he passed it on to his family – with his youngest daughter two weeks out of school – before symptoms spread through his neighborhood half the time.
The Bland family has not been tested for coronavirus, but if their results came back positive, it means that the infection had arrived in the UK a month earlier than expected.
Officially, the first recorded case in the UK was on January 31, with the first broadcast on February 28.
The virus has since spread to the four countries and has caused 465 deaths and 9,529 cases.
Ms. Bland, 49, has called for testing the family to try to help authorities understand how the bug has engulfed Britain.
Also called ‘Ibiza of the Alps’, Ischgl faces tough questions about how partygoers ultimately transmitted the disease across Europe.
Austrian officials have launched an investigation into whether the popular resort in the province of Tyrol deliberately chose not to report cases because it would harm the tourist industry around the time of an important local election.
Opposition leader Dominik Oberhofer said questions should be asked about the relationship between hoteliers and politicians responsible for overseeing the coronavirus response.