From Iceland — COVID-19 In Iceland: 102-Year-Old Survivor, Gov't Extends Icelandair Deal

COVID-19 In Iceland: 102-Year-Old Survivor, Gov’t Extends Icelandair Deal

Published May 7, 2020

Photo by
Arpingstone / Wikimedia Commons

There are 36 active COVID-19 infections in Iceland currently, following the detection of two new cases yesterday, May 6th. Over 97% of those who have been infected with the virus have now recovered. There are just three patients in hospital and 729 Icelanders in quarantine.

Second Phase Of Restriction Easing

Chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has announced that the next phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions will begin on May 25th, Vísir reports. This is earlier than expected, previously public authorities had suggested that this would happen in June. The new date was announced in the final daily press conference yesterday, May 6th.

The exact details of the second phase are yet to be released and to a certain extent will be determined by the success of the first stage that began on May 4th. It’s likely the gathering ban will be relaxed, perhaps to allow groups of up to 100 people to meet.

Þórólfur also hopes to reopen fitness centres and gyms on this date. There has been increasing pressure from gym-owners to allow them to reopen their businesses following the announcement that public swimming pools will reopen on May 18th.

102-Year-Old Survivor

Helga Guðmundsdóttir, a 102-year-old resident of the Bergi care home in Bolungarvík has become the oldest person in Iceland to survive COVID-19 infection. She has described her experience of the virus as “very boring”, Vísir reports.

Speaking to Fréttablaðið, Helga’s son Agnar H. Gunnarsson explained that she was born in 1917 during the Spanish flu pandemic and she has also twice survived tuberculosis. Helga fell ill with COVID-19 in April, but was pronounced recovered on May 2nd. Helga hopes to celebrate her 103rd birthday later this month with her closest family members.

The Bergi care home caught the country’s attention in late March when it became the epicentre of the Westfjords’ coronavirus outbreak. Tragically two residents have died from the virus and many more elderly people and carers have fallen ill.

Icelandair Repatriation Flight Deal Extended

The government has renewed its agreement with Icelandair to ensure flights continue operating to between Keflavik and Stockholm, Boston and London Heathrow, RÚV reports. The airline will run 22 flights to and from these three locations before the agreement is next reconsidered on May 16th.

The value of the state loan Icelandair will receive in order to operate these flights is not yet known. The first state loan offered Icelandair a maximum of 100 million ISK to run flights for three weeks in April.

As reported, the struggling airline has laid off over 3,000 employees, 95% of its workforce, in recent weeks and is reporting severe losses. However, the government is reluctant to grant Icelandair further special concessions. The government has only agreed to these loans to ensure the bare minimum of air transport to and from Iceland continues during the pandemic.

These are the Icelandair flights scheduled up until May 16th:
KEF-BOS / BOS-KEF    May 7th, 9th, 14th, 16th
KEF-LHR / LHR-KEF    May 8th, 10th, 13th, 15th
KEF-ARN / ARN-KEF  May 9th, 16th

For advice and information relating to the coronavirus in Iceland go to covis.is.

If you’re enjoying our COVID-19 reporting, check out our latest COVID-cast with editor-in-chief Valur Grettison.

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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