Coronavirus: Meet Britain’s alleged patient zero

Coronavirus: Meet Britain’s alleged patient zero

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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. Daily Mail Reports

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 – sick.

Prosecutors are investigating the destination for possible negligence due to hundreds of foreigners leaving with the illness.

Mr Bland told the Telegraph: ‘We visited the Kitzloch [bar] and it was rammed, with people singing and dancing on the tables.

‘People were hot and sweaty from skiing and waiters were delivering shots to tables in their hundreds. You couldn’t have a better home for a virus.

‘I was ill for 10 days. It was like wading through treacle. I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t work, it knocked me for six. I was breathless.’

He said he passed it on to his family – with his youngest daughter off school for two weeks – before symptoms spread through his neighbourhood ahead of half term.

The Bland family have not been tested for coronavirus, but if their results came back positive it means the virus hit UK shores a month earlier than thought.

Officially the first recorded case in the UK was on January 31, with the first transmission on February 28.

The virus has since spread across the four countries, racking up 465 deaths and 9,529 cases.

Mrs Bland, 49, has called for the family to be tested to try to help authorities understand how the bug has swept across Britain.

Ischgl, dubbed ‘Ibiza of the Alps’, faces tough questions over how revellers ended up transmitting the illness across Europe.

Austrian officials have launched a probe into whether the popular resort in Tyrol province purposefully chose not to report cases because it would hurt the tourist industry around the time of a key local election.

Leader of the opposition Dominik Oberhofer said questions need to be asked about the relationship between hoteliers and politicians who were in charge of overseeing the coronavirus response.

The inquiry centres around reports a 36-year-old German barman at the popular Kitzloch pub who fell ill with COVID-19 in February.

The resort has been linked to hundreds of cases in Austria, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark.

Despite concerns the virus was running rampant there, the slopes and bars were allowed to stay open for weeks.

German media has branded Ischgl ‘the breeding ground’ of coronavirus, while Norway believes almost half of the country’s cases were imported from Ischgl.

The number of infections in Ischgl – a small town of about 1,500 people – is double that of Vienna, the country’s capital, which has a population of 2million.

There have been at least 1,020 confirmed infections in the town, compared to 456 in the capital.

Europe has become the new epicentre of the pandemic, with more than 100,000 people confirmed to have been infected across the Continent. Italy makes up more than half of cases.

Reports say a German barman at the Kitzloch pub fell ill with coronavirus symptoms at the end of February, although it has not been officially confirmed.

Tourists from Scandinavia, Germany and other parts of Austria all started testing positive for the illness after returning from Ischgl in early March.

German media described the resort as a ‘breeding ground’ for the virus, but local authorities played down concerns.

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’

The UK has recorded 43 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours compared to 87 on Tuesday, but new infections have increased by a record 1,452 to 9,529 as Britons continued to flout the lockdown.

Twenty-eight more patients died overnight in England. Six more patients died in Scotland, five in Wales and four in Northern Ireland – bringing the total death toll to 465 in Britain.

They included a 47-year-old who did not have an underlying health condition. The others who died, including one person aged 93, did have underlying health conditions. 

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