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Trial over COVID-19 outbreak in Austria’s ‘Ibiza of the Alps’ begins By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – The sign of the town is shown as COVID-19 continues to spread in Ischgl (Tyrolean), Austria on October 19, 2020. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

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By Leonhard Foeger

VIENNA (Reuters) – A trial opened in Vienna on Friday over an outbreak of the coronavirus at the ski resort of Ischgl in early 2020 in which Austrian authorities stand accused of responding too slowly, possibly due to pressure from the tourist sector.

Ischgl, which was Austria’s largest outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe, helped spread it throughout Europe.

Hundreds of Austrians became infected, and many foreigners also fell victim to the disease. This was due to the virus’s breeding grounds in the resort’s apres-ski bars. It quickly spread across Europe.

This case was the first of over a dozen civil lawsuits filed by a consumer rights organization. The widow and son of a victim of the coronavirus, which infected them in Ischgl, are seeking damages of 100,000 euros ($117 780).

Private Consumer Protection Association (VSV) has filed the lawsuit against the government. They claim that authorities failed to respond to the outbreak and may have succumbed to tourism pressure.

According to the Tyrol authorities, they responded in a timely manner given the information available at that time.

The first Ischgl case was discovered on March 7, 2020. This occurred just 11 days after Iceland confirmed that they had infected tourists there.

Since then, the Austrian public health agency believes that the virus reached Ischgl much earlier than expected. It was discovered on February 5, 2019.

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