From Iceland — COVID-19 Easter Catch-Up: Low Rate Of Infection Continues, Two Deaths & More

COVID-19 Easter Catch-Up: Low Rate Of Infection Continues, Two Deaths & More

Published April 14, 2020

Photo by
Art Bicnick

A round-up of the biggest developments in Iceland’s COVID-19 outbreak over the Easter long weekend:

Low number of new cases

The daily number of new confirmed cases remained low over the Easter weekend. Just 10 cases were announced on April 12th, 12 on April 11th, and 14 on April 10th. Low numbers of infections have been recorded for seven consecutive days. The number of recoveries has also continued to overtake new infections, meaning it is highly likely that the COVID-19 outbreak in Iceland has peaked.

Speaking in yesterday’s press conference, Þórólfur Guðnason, the head epidemiologist, described the positive trends in the weekend’s data as a “reason to rejoice,” Fréttablaðið reports. Þórólfur told journalists that it was safe to say that the COVID-19 outbreak has begun to decline.

Þórólfur also revealed that Iceland has the third lowest number of infections per capita in Europe. (Although, as ever, it’s worth noting that Iceland’s small population gives it a considerable advantage with regard to per capita statistics). He went on to highlight Iceland’s low death rate in comparison to other European nations.

Two deaths

Landspítali Hospital reported two more deaths caused by COVID-19 over the Easter holiday, bringing the virus’ death toll in Iceland to eight.

Annalisa Jansen, an 81-year-old grandmother died on the morning of April 10th, Fréttablaðið reports. She had been hospitalised for three weeks and had appeared to be in recovery before a sudden deterioration in her condition. Her relatives have thanked healthcare workers and urged Icelanders to take the virus seriously.

Another death was announced on the Landspítali website on Saturday, but no details have been released.

Restrictions expected over summer

Officials have warned that the gathering ban is unlikely to be lifted completely on May 4th, the day it’s set to expire, Vísir reports. Þórólfur Guðnason stated that the first steps to remove the gathering ban will be taken after May 4th, but Icelanders should expect some restrictions to remain in place for some time yet. “I urge people to be prepared for restrictions on large gatherings this summer,” Þórólfur told reporters. Víðir Reynisson, the chief of police, has also suggested that the gathering ban will be removed in three to four stages each lasting around a month.

The decision to start relaxing restrictions in a month’s time comes following seven consecutive days of low infection rates, but Þórólfur warns that a gradual approach is required to prevent the outbreak worsening again. Social distancing practices and shielding of vulnerable individuals is likely to be necessary throughout the year.

The government’s plan to rollback COVID-19 measures will be announced later today by the Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir

Ventilator donation

Landspítali has received 17 ventilators as a gift from 14 Icelandic companies, Fréttablaðið reports. The companies do not wish to be named, but the hospital has warmly thanked the anonymous donors. The companies are understood to have teamed together to purchase the ventilators from Germany.

There are currently nine people in intensive care in Iceland, but Alma Möller has warned that the situation in Iceland’s hospitals is likely to deteriorate in coming weeks. As the number of patients in intensive care increases, the new ventilators will be of great use to healthcare workers.

Low levels of testing

Testing for the virus continues to be carried out by the National University Hospital and deCODE genetics. Almost 35,500 samples have been screened thus far. The number of tests fell significantly over the Easter weekend. Just 235 screenings were conducted on April 12th, whereas 1502 tests were carried out on April 9th. The reason for this decrease is not yet clear.

Latest data

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iceland as of midnight April 12th is 1,711. Hospitals are treating 40 patients, but only nine are in intensive care. Over 930 people have recovered from the virus, but eight have died. More data and helpful advice can be found at https://www.covid.is/data.

For a deeper dive into the latest COVID-19 news in Iceland tune into our COVID-cast.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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