At a press conference held today, Þórólfur Guðnason, the Directorate of Health’s chief epidemiologist, told reporters that there are now 109 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iceland, with about 900 people in quarantine. 24 of these cases were people who contracted the virus in Iceland. Of those who have contracted it abroad, the vast majority contracted it during a ski trip in the Alps, although there have been three cases in Iceland found in people coming from the United States. About 1,000 samples have thus far been tested.
Two have been admitted to hospital, but neither are in intensive care.
Þórólfur said that a public gatherings ban is still being discussed, and that there are numerous ways this could be executed. Mostly, authorities want to emphasise harm reduction. The Directorate of Health has an informative FAQ to that end, which includes instructions on what people can do to avoid catching the virus (scroll to “What can I do to avoid infection with COVID-19?”).
Alma Möller, the Directorate of Health director, praised Icelandic health care workers for the hard work and dedication that they have shown. She added people should show general tolerance and acceptance in light of news that some health care workers were amongst those who went on a ski trip to the Alps.
Chief police superintendent Víðir Reynisson, when asked how the general public should be responding, emphasised that people should not put their lives on hold; that people should remain calm and carry on with their lives.
That said, Þórólfur took a cautious tone on the subject of public gatherings bans. He pointed out that such bans have been executed in different ways in other Nordic countries, with varying maximum capacity numbers in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway. He emphasised that he believed it unfair to say that Icelandic authorities are not doing enough to combat the spread of the virus; on the contrary, he contended that Iceland has done more than other Nordic country when it comes to fighting against COVID-19.
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