A stopped train became a symbol of how bright nerves are currently in the Alpine countries. On Sunday evening the Eurocity 86 from Venice to Munich was stopped shortly before the Brenner. At the stop in Verona, two Germans were suspected of being infected with the corona virus and were taken to a hospital. It quickly became apparent that the test results are negative.
But the situation had already slipped a little. On the instructions of the Tyrolean Civil Protection Agency, rail traffic between Austria and Italy was temporarily suspended. 500 passengers were stuck on the Italian side of the burner. South Tyrolean civil protection was quickly on site, and the Tyrolean state and Austrian governments intervened. When the trains were allowed to run again shortly before midnight, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer from Vienna announced: Identity checks will be carried out on all passengers who get off in Austria.
In Bellinzona in the canton of Ticino, 25,000 people celebrated Rabadan, the local carnival, on the same day. A new record. But the longer the day lasted, the more bleak was the joy of the party: the live blogs on the online portals reported on the steadily increasing number of Corona cases in nearby Lombardy.
While the carnival was dancing in the streets, a corona emergency plan was designed and implemented in the canton that could also cope with a large number of infections. Medical interventions have been postponed in the Ticino hospitals since Sunday, so that more operating theaters, beds and, above all, staff are ready in case of an emergency. People suffering from fever and acute respiratory disease are routinely screened for the coronavirus. The samples are examined in a newly established special laboratory within a few hours. If the test is positive, the patient is isolated for 14 days. So the chain of infection should be interrupted.
On Monday, the responsible interior minister Alain Berset appeared in front of the media, accompanied by his office heads. The message to the country: We have everything under control. The message to Ticino: We are with you. If you left it with a flippant "Don't panic!" The day before, you were promised to the Ticino people, who have a tense relationship with German citizens anyway, who always feel ignored and abandoned, including protective masks from army stocks.
Three hours later, Ticino's head of government Christian Vitta, health director Raffaele de Rosa and cantonal doctor Giorgio Merlani made their appearance. Again and again they asked the people of Bellinzona for trust. Call on people to trust only official information. Appealed to the sense of responsibility of the media. The number of calls from Ticino to the corona helpline of the Federal Office of Health has grown exponentially, the level of information among citizens is alarmingly low, the greater their concern, the cantonal doctor said.
The fight against the virus is also a fight for the heads.
In Austria it has been so far since Tuesday noon. The first two Corona cases were confirmed in Innsbruck. Two young Italians from Lombardy are quarantined in a hospital. A few hours later, the Grand Hotel Europa, where one of the sick worked as a receptionist, was closed and guests of the city's only five-star hotel were no longer allowed to leave their hostel.
A few hours later, the Federal Office of Public Health reported the first case in Switzerland. A 70-year-old man is in hospital in Ticino. He got infected in Milan in mid-February.
The Austrian authorities are trying to calm down, but not everyone is playing along. The temptation is too great. Because the relationship between North and South Tyrol, Austria and Italy has historically been heavily burdened. The burner is in the middle. For the old-time, it marks the border of injustice that arose after the First World War and divided Tyrol. For the Greens, it stands for the transit avalanche that pollutes the Inn Valley. For German vacationers, it is a milestone on their longing route to the sun. Since 2015, it has been symbolic of the refugees who come from the south. And now the Corona virus is said to have entered the country via this Alpine pass.