Now that there have been three confirmed cases in Iceland of COVID-19, more commonly known as coronavirus, with another 300 in home quarantine, people are understandably worried. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to avoid infection, and the Directorate of Health has issued detailed information in English on what you can do.
The Directorate advises that if you have been to a high-risk area for the virus recently, or been in contact with anyone who has, to monitor your health closely. High risk areas include “China, four provinces in Northern Italy (Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and Piedmont), South-Korea, and Iran”.
If you begin to display symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of such contact, you are urged to call 1700 from an Icelandic phone number or +354 544 4113 from any other phone, where a health care professional will give you further information and guidance. The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and aches in the bones.
To prevent transmission or contact with the virus, the cardinal rule is to wash your hands frequently before eating and after touching common surfaces, and avoid touching your face. If you must sneeze or cough, do so into the crook of your elbow or into a tissue. It also naturally follows that you should avoid contact with sick people.
The Icelandic Tourist Board has issued an advisory for service workers, directed at both workers and management alike, on how best to prevent infection.
Also importantly, please do not be rude to Italians or Asians you may encounter in Iceland, as it has been reported that some Italian tourists are being refused service in some parts of the country (although in that particular instance, the owners deny that refusal of service was due to their nationality). Such treatment will not only not reduce your risk of infection—the three confirmed cases of COVID-19 are all Icelandic—it is also just general poor behaviour.
The Directorate of Health has also issued this informative pictograph on how to wash your hands properly, which you would do well to follow.
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