From Iceland — COVID-19 In Iceland: Public Health Leaders Hold Final Press Conference

COVID-19 In Iceland: Public Health Leaders Hold Final Press Conference

Published May 25, 2020

Poppy Askham
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The final scheduled pandemic press conference was held today as Iceland enters the next phase of de-escalating its COVID-19 response. Further meetings will only be held if there are significant policy decisions or changes to the COVID-19 outbreak in Iceland, Visir reports.

Regular attendees chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, surgeon general Alma D. Möller and chief of police Víðir Reynisson, were joined by Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir and Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir.

The meeting’s mood was celebratory – Þórólfur, Víðir and Alma received warm words of thanks and bouquets of flowers from the government ministers. In the words of Svandís, they have provided “care, professionalism and security” over the past  months.

The most significant announcement was that after three weeks the gathering ban will be relaxed even further to permit groups of up to 500 people, provided the current stage of de-escalation goes well.

Notably Þórólfur also suggested that the virus does not seem as effective now as it did in the earlier days of the epidemic. The people who have been infected recently have not been severely ill for the most part. However, Þórólfur stressed it is impossible to rule out a second wave of infections.

Healthcare statistics

Alma revealed that admissions to hospital in March and April had decreased by 39% in comparison to 2019.  As reported, the country’s death rate has not increased either.

However, wait times for medical procedures were significantly lengthier in recent months and the healthcare system will now have to deal with the longer term impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

Travel Restrictions

The Minister of Health has received results of Landspítali’s risk analysis of the proposal to test tourists arriving in the country. The project was not complete when the government announced the policy on May 12th.

The government’s border action task force will also submit its suggestions later today and Þórólfur will be presenting his proposals tourists imminently. More details about changes to travel restrictions can be expected in the coming days.

No new COVID-19 cases were detected yesterday, meaning there are three active infections in the country. To date there have been 1,804 cases in Iceland. Just six infections have been reported this month.

More information about COVID-19 in Iceland can be found here.

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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