From Iceland — COVID-19 In Iceland: High Intensive Care Survival Rate, Nurses' Pay Dispute

COVID-19 In Iceland: High Intensive Care Survival Rate, Nurses’ Pay Dispute

Published April 29, 2020

Poppy Askham
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Public health authorities reported two new COVID-19 cases yesterday, 28th April. Both people found to be infected come from the capital area and neither were in in quarantine at the time of diagnosis.

Nineteen more people recovered from the virus, meaning there are now 131 active infections in the country. There are no intensive care patients for the second day in a row and only seven Icelanders are currently hospitalised. Notably, the last patient in Akureyri hospital has been discharged.

Low Intensive Care Mortality Rate
Martin Ingi Sigurðsson, the head of intensive care at Landspítali, told Visir that more people have recovered from COVID-19 after receiving intensive care treatment than expected. Data collected from other countries’ earlier on in the pandemic suggested that 50-90% of those who became ill enough to require intensive care would die. But Martin says Landspítali’s intensive care mortality rate is around 15%.

To date, 30 coronavirus patients have received intensive care in Icelandic hospitals and 18 have been put on a ventilator. Ten people have died from the virus in the country, but only four were in intensive care wards at Landspítali according to Martin.

Martin suggests that the compliance of the Icelandic people to public health authorities has meant that hospitals have not been overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. He also highlights the success of screening initiatives and the healthcare system’s efficient outpatient monitoring systems.

Nurses’ Pay Dispute Continues
Members of the Association of Icelandic Nurses have voted on a wage agreement drawn up by the Minister of Finance in response to outcry against proposed changes to the payroll for some medical staff, Fréttablaðið reports. The majority – 53.02% – voted against the agreement, but 45.98% were in favour of it. Negotiations between the union and the Icelandic government have been going on for over a year. Nurses are particularly concerned about plans to shorten the working week by reducing the time allowed for meal and coffee breaks and the impact this will have on wages. The negotiators will now have to start working towards a new proposal once again.

As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s excellent COVID-19 help page.

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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