COVID-19 In Iceland: Five Days Of No New Cases, Questions Remain About Re-Opening

COVID-19 In Iceland: Five Days Of No New Cases, Questions Remain About Re-Opening

Published May 18, 2020

Photo by
Art Bicnick

The latest data in Iceland shows that there are now only six confirmed cases of coronavirus in Iceland, and five days have now passed without a new case popping up. 15% of Iceland’s population has been tested for the virus.

At a press conference held today, chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason said that come June 15th, when Iceland is due to completely open to tourism again, people will not have to go into a 2-week quarantine, but can simply either bring a clean bill of health from their home countries or be tested upon arrival. As reported, the state will pay for the cost of these tests for at least the first two weeks from the country opening.

Taking questions from reporters, Þórólfur said that while he respects the opinions of some doctors in Iceland that June 15th is too soon to open the country, they would have to accept that the country would be opened at some point. On the point of preparedness in time for June 15th, Þórólfur said that preparations are underway to open the border at this date, but that could be subject to change.

Þórólfur emphasised that the national hospital can test up to 1,000 samples at a time; the hospital now has plenty of experience with testing procedures and and will be buying new equipment. Operations at Keflavík Airport should prevent the virus from coming back to Iceland, he said, but then added that it will eventually come back here at some point in the future. This is why it is of critical importance that people continue to observe the two-metre rule and practice the hygiene guidelines—otherwise, Iceland could experience a second wave of infections.

As reported, upon being tested at the border, these samples are sent immediately to the national hospital, with test results ready in as little as five hours. Again, visitors to Iceland can forego this whole process altogether if they are able to get tested in their home countries and bring their test results with them. The question of what will happen to some visitor to Iceland who does test positive—not to mention everyone else on the plane with them—has not as yet been answered.

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

Tune into our COVID-Cast for a deeper dive into the day’s developments.

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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