A DAD suspected of being the UK's first coronavirus victim fears he brought the bug home from a skiing trip in the Alps.

Daren Bland, from East Sussex, caught Covid-19 in mid-January, meaning the virus may have arrived in the UK a month earlier than originally thought.

The Austrian ski resort where he stayed, meanwhile, is under investigation for allegedly covering up the outbreak there.

The first transmission of coronavirus in Britain is currently thought to have been on February 28 and the earliest recorded case was January 31.


But Mr Bland, 50, had taken a four-day trip at the resort in Ischgl from January 15 before displaying Covid-19 symptoms and passing the illness to his wife Sarah and their kids in his home in Maresfield.

Two friends, from Denmark and Minnesota, USA, whom the IT consultant was skiing with, also fell ill with the same telltale symptoms.

In the weeks leading up to February half term, many people local to Mr Bland were struck down, with kids taking time off school.

It is feared the infection was able to spread across Europe undetected for weeks possibly due to an alleged cover up by the Austrian ski resort.

As a result, prosecutors this week opened a criminal investigation with hundreds of cases in surrounding countries being traced back to the Tyrolean Alps.

During his trip, Mr Bland had visited the Kitzloch bar - known for tightly packed parties and beer pong - as did many victims during their stay at the resort.

“We visited the Kitzloch and it was rammed, with people singing and dancing on the tables," the British dad told the Telegraph.

“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.”

Mr Bland fell ill on January 20, the day after returning home and said he felt like he was "wading through treacle" for 10 days.

Mrs Bland, 49, said she and her two daughters fell ill with symptoms including "strange flushes", as well as exhaustion and "total brain fog" for three weeks.

Her youngest daughter also had a persistent cough and high temperature, keeping her off school for two weeks, though her other daughter recovered after a day.

The Blands have not officially been confirmed as having had the infection but became suspicious after hearing cases across Europe had been traced back to the resort.

The Kitzloch bar closed on March 10 and the resort shut three days later.

  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal.  Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund