New Quarantine Travel Rules
The Icelandic government has accepted the recommendations of the Chief Epidemiologist, Þórólfur Guðnason to introduce stricter quarantine requirements for people entering Iceland. From Friday April 24th, everyone arriving in Iceland, including tourists, will be required to complete a 14-day quarantine on arrival in the country. The quarantine requirement applies to all countries classed as high-risk by the Icelandic authorities which is currently the whole world. It is currently unclear when the risk classifications will change or how long the new measure will be in place. The government has clarified that the quarantine requirement will be unaffected by the changes to certain COVID-19 restrictions on May 4th.
The government has released more information about the timings of its phased plan to relax measures brought in to limit the spread of COVID-19. The first stage will begin on May 4th and will last until June 1st. As reported, on May 4th the gathering ban will be loosened to allow groups of up to 50 and schools will re-open. However, it has been clarified today that entertainment venues including pubs, arcades and cinemas will remain closed until at least June 1st. Restaurants with alcohol licenses will not be permitted to open later than 23:00 until June.
Government’s COVID-19 database that was updated at midnight last night shows that seven new COVID-19 cases were identified in Iceland yesterday bringing the total up to 1,785. Almost 1,500 people have recovered but 19 Icelanders have been hospitalised and five require intensive care. Six patients have been discharged from hospital in the last 24 hours. As in previous days the number of recoveries if far higher than the number of new infections and the latest figures confirm that the COVID-19 outbreak in Iceland appears to be diminishing rapidly.
Antibody Testing Expanded
Director of Directorate of Health Alma Möller announced that the public health service has joined deCODE in antibody testing efforts, Fréttablaðið reports. deCODE is currently carrying out antibody tests in its free drive-through service in Reykjavik, but different methods are being explored following controversy amongst the scientific community over the reliability of antibody tests as an indicator of immunity in recent days. The WHO has warned against over-reliance on the tests.
Kári Stefánsson, CEO of Icelandic genetic research company deCODE, remains committed to continuing antibody testing despite the controversy, explaining that the tests provide valuable information about the extent of the virus’ spread in Iceland. Although he is waiting for more data before he comments on any findings, he has stated that deCODE’s research suggests that those who recover from more severe cases of COVID-19 will have higher immune protection against future infection thatn those who experienced a mild form of illness.
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