An American woman has been accused of spreading coronavirus around a Bavarian town by allegedly drinking in pubs and bars despite being told to quarantine after showing coronavirus symptoms.
The woman, who works at a hotel resort for US forces stationed in Germany and has not been identified, returned from a holiday in Greece at the end of August.
According to local authorities in the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, she was tested on 8 September after displaying Covid-19 symptoms. They say she ignored instructions to quarantine until her results were available and went out that evening. The next morning she received a positive test.
At least 22 US citizens based at the hotel have become infected and the hotel itself, which hosted a conference last week on how to prevent the virus spreading in the US army, has been closed for two weeks.
“I am angered about this young woman,” said district councillor Anton Speer. “Despite having symptoms and the order to quarantine, she plunged herself into the nightlife. She has infected at least 22 Americans. It will be a Herculean task to get hold of all the contact persons and inform them.”
Bavaria’s interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, said there would be legal consequences for the 26-year-old if it was clear that she had ignored orders to quarantine.
“If it is confirmed that the woman despite having clear coronavirus symptoms, refused to go into quarantine, she will face a hefty fine,” Herrmann said. “Such recklessness should be clearly admonished.”
It is not clear if the woman became infected in Greece or Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where she lives. People between the ages of 18 and 35 in the market town at the foot of Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze, have been requested to take a coronavirus test and by Sunday 700 had done so.
“She had symptoms and was tested and ordered to stay in quarantine, but she failed to do so,” said a spokesman for the town.
Local media reported that among the bars she had visited were an Irish pub and a cocktail bar where a karaoke party was taking place.
The Peaches cocktail bar in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where the American woman infected with coronavirus visited. Photograph: Philipp Guelland/EPA
The seven-day incidence rate in the district is, at 59 people out of 100,000, over the critical level of 50 at which authorities are obliged to instigate lockdown rules.
As a result of the outbreak, all pubs and restaurants in the 26,000-inhabitant town have been ordered to close at 10pm, and gatherings in public have been reduced to a maximum of five people. Private gatherings have been reduced to a maximum of 50 people inside, and up to 100 outside.
In Bavaria fines of up to €2,000 can be applied to individuals who break quarantine rules. However, lawyers have confirmed that the woman could in theory also face both civil and criminal proceedings carrying a prison sentence of between six months and 10 years, as well as compensation claims from businesses affected.