From Iceland — Epidemiologist Hints At Future Exemptions To COVID-19 Border Screenings

Epidemiologist Hints At Future Exemptions To COVID-19 Border Screenings

Published June 24, 2020

Photo by
Lögreglan

Future passengers from certain countries may be exempt from completing a 14-day quarantine period or being screened for COVID-19 on arrival in Iceland, according to Chief Epidemiologist, Þórólfur Guðnason.

In a press briefing held on June 22nd, Þórólfur stated that the data currently being obtained from screening arrivals for COVID-19 would help the health authorities determine which countries could be declared exempt from current travel protocol, Vísir reports.

Just 2,000 arrivals per day can currently be tested, but daily flight capacity is as high as 9,000 passengers per day. Þórólfur stated that introducing exemptions to the screening policy may be the only way to increase the daily number of arrivals permitted.

Experts are tracking the origins of all coronavirus infections detected at the border and as a result may be able to assess which countries present a lower risk. Þórólfur named the United States, Brazil, India and Russia as some of the countries he is most concerned about currently.

It is unclear when a more targeted approach to screening may be introduced, but Þórólfur suggested that after July 1st, health authorities may review countries’ risk assessments.

As reported, current travel restrictions are set to be further loosened on July 1st to allow passengers from outside the EU/EEA, EFTA or UK to enter Iceland, although they will still need to be screened for COVID-19 or quarantine for 14 days.

Iceland now enters the second week of COVID-19 screenings at the border. So far around 7,000 passengers have entered the country and just two active infections have been detected. Over 20 passengers have had to quarantine according to Þórólfur.

Eleven people have tested positive for COVID-19 in border screenings, but nine were found to have recovered from a coronavirus infection and after antibody testing were not deemed contagious.

There are currently eight active cases in Iceland, according to covid.is. The last domestic infection was on June 18th and over 300 individuals are currently in quarantine.

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