From Iceland — Westfjords Nursing Home Fighting COVID-19 Outbreak

Westfjords Nursing Home Fighting COVID-19 Outbreak

Published April 8, 2020

Poppy Askham
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The Bergi nursing home in Bolungarvík in the Westfjords is continuing to battle a COVID-19 outbreak, following the death of one of its residents from the virus earlier this week. Two residents have now been hospitalised, one of whom has been transferred to Landspítali, Visir reports.

Last Sunday, Gunnsteinn Svavar Sigurðsson, an elderly Bergi resident died from COVID-19 infection. Four residents of the nursing home have also tested positive for the virus. One patient, a man in his 60s, is being treated in the intensive care unit at Akureyri hospital and another has been transferred to Landspítali in Reykjavík. The number of infections in the care home is thought to be relatively stable, but the condition of the first residents to become infected has deteriorated rapidly.

There has been concern about adequately staffing the home as six employees have tested positive for the virus and an additional 23 workers are quarantined or self-isolating at home. Earlier this week, reinfrocement carers were flown from Reykjavík to Bolungarvík by helicopter to help staff cope with the crisis. Gylfi Ólafsson has welcomed the help, saying the “situation is better” as a result of the new staff. Gylfi also acknowledged that residents may be distressed by the presence of new carers wearing full protective equipment. It’s “like green aliens are inside their home” he explained, but the new staff members and use of PPE are vital to ensure all residents receive adequate levels of care.

Although it is unclear how the virus was transmitted to Bergi, the outbreak painfully illustrates the importance on the current ban on visits to care homes. As Gylfi explains, “If infection gets into homes for the elderly, the consequences are catastrophic.” Many Icelanders are worried about elderly relatives becoming lonely during the pandemic, but they are urged to respect the ban and to use technology to keep in touch with their family members without putting them at risk of infection.

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