Þórólfur Guðnason, Iceland’s head epidemiologist, has announced that it is highly likely that Iceland has reached the peak of its COVID-19 outbreak. Yesterday more recoveries from the virus than new infections were recorded for the second day in a row.
Yesterday here were 30 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 75 recoveries from the virus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 1616. Recoveries also outflanked new infections on 6th April — 99 people recovered and just 24 new cases were recorded. The low number of new infections is not due to a downturn in virus screenings, in fact yesterday saw the second highest number of samples tested since the start of the outbreak. New infection numbers have not been this low for over two weeks.
In today’s press conference, Þórólfur Guðnason was cautiously optimistic about the new figures, telling journalists “I think we can pretty much say we have reached the peak [of the outbreak],” Vísir reports. If this is the case, the estimate that Iceland would be at the height of its COVID-19 crisis on April 10th has proven astonishingly accurate.
Although this is hugely positive news, Alma Möller, Iceland’s director of health, warned that the situation in the country’s hospitals is likely to deteriorate in coming weeks. Hospitalisation rates will peak up to two weeks after the number of new infections has begun to decrease. Research suggests that patients tend to require hospitalisation after six days of infection and intensive care after nine days. There are currently 39 people being treated in Icelandic hospitals, 13 of whom require intensive care. As numbers increased the healthcare system will put under greater strain.
Þórólfur also noted that experts and public health officials would be closely monitoring the situation in Iceland over the Easter weekend. As Víðir Reynisson, the head of police said yesterday, Icelanders’ actions over the next couple of days will determine whether positive trends continue. It is vital that everyone continues to practise social-distancing and observe the gathering ban over Easter.
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