Today is Thursday, March 19th, and here are the most recent COVID-19 updates in Iceland.
New quarantine measures
As of today, all Icelanders returning from abroad will be required to under-go a two-week quarantine. This is following the expansion of areas considered high-risk by Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist. Flight crew and cargo crew are excluded from this measure. Tourists are also exempt as they are deemed less likely to spread the virus to Icelanders. It must be emphasised that, unlike the EU, Iceland has not closed its borders to international visitors.
Economic effects discussed
Talks were held yesterday between Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson and US State Secretary Mike Pompeo about the economic implications of the US and EU travel restrictions. Although no concrete measures were put in place to help Iceland’s tourism-dependent economy, the US has agreed to future cooperation with Iceland in order to deal with the travel bans’ effects.
The Icelandic economy is already suffering from the drop in tourism caused by global travel restrictions. Speaking to RUV this morning Asgeir Jónsson, Governor of the Central Bank of Iceland has warned that the economic effects of the crisis will last for months after rates of infection have dropped. Asgeir pointed to the króna’s 10% fall in value in recent days as an early sign of Iceland’s economic troubles. However, he is keen to remind everyone that the tourists will return in due course.
The Central Bank also announced that it will be lowering interest rates by 0.5% in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Outbreak peak predicted
Iceland’s COVID-19 outbreak will peak mid-April according to forecasts made by Iceland’s Chief Surgeon, Alma Möller on RUV last night. Alma specified 10th April as the crest of the wave for Iceland, but was eager to stress that it was impossible to fully predict how the virus would develop. Read more about the prediction here.
Elderly shopping hour
Supermarket chain Nettó has announced the launch of a shopping hour for the elderly to minimise their risk of infection and ensure they have access to the supplies they need as Morgunblaðið reports. From 09:00 to 10:00, the first hour of opening, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions will be able to shop in relative safety in Nettó, Samkaup and Kjörbúð stores.
At the time of writing, there are 330 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iceland, 80 more than yesterday. Only 3 patients are currently hospitalised. 3,718 are in quarantine and 7,833 tests have been taken as deCODE genetics continues its screening programme in coordination with the Icelandic health service.
As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s excellent COVID-19 help page.
Tune into our daily COVID-Cast for a deeper dive into the day’s developments.
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