Austrian village sealed off after outbreak of South African COVID-19 variant at kindergarten

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·2 min read
A street is pictured in Mayrhofen in Tyrol, Austria on February 4, 2021, amid the ongoing coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. - The Austrian government on February 4, 2021 rejected a possible lockdown of Tyrol, after alarmist remarks by a virologist denouncing the passivity towards the South African variant and warning of a new health scandal. (Photo by - / various sources / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by -/EXPA/AFP via Getty Images)
The Austrian village of Mayrhofen in Zillertal is to be sealed off after 29 cases of the South African coronavirus mutation were discovered. (Getty)

A village in Austria is to be completely sealed off for at least a week after 29 cases of the South African COVID variant were found there.

Mayrhofen in Zillertal will only allow commuters in and out during the period it is sealed off, in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus strain.

Out of a population of 4,000 people, there are 42 cases of coronavirus – including at a kindergarten and a school.

At least one of the cases is suspected of being related to the South African variant, according to The Local.

Snow maker spray snow in See near Ischgl, Austria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. The Austrian government imposed a second lockdown to slow down the ongoing pandemic of the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, from Nov. 17, 2020 until at least Dec. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Ischgl in Austria is thought to be 'ground zero' for the coronavirus pandemic in Austria. (AP)

The find is significant as the village lies in the Austrian state of Tyrol – where the Ischgl ski resort, thought to be the ‘ground zero’ of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, is situated.

Thousands of tourists, including at least 180 Britons, caught coronavirus while staying there during the spring holidays in March last year, carrying it back to their home countries.

Watch: PM 'very confident' in COVID vaccines amid South African variant concerns

The tough new measures in Mayrhofen will mean anyone wanting to leave the village will have to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours.

All residents will also be tested twice between Friday and Wednesday in an effort to stop a further outbreak.

Pupils will be force into remote learning while schools close and most shops will also be shut, aside from chemists and supermarkets.

Mask use will also be mandatory in “defined public places” throughout the Schwaz district.

The Local reports that there has been some pushback against mass testing after authorities asked those taking part to film themselves so their identities could be checked.

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The Tyrol region has seen just 4,000 completed tests returned out of a total of 40,000 that were sent out.

The governor of Tyrol, Gunther Platter, has now called for people in the Schwaz area to be given priority for vaccines.

Tyrol has seen 567 deaths from coronavirus, out of 47,168 cases. Total COVID deaths in Austria stand at 8,470.

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown