From Iceland — COVID-19 In Iceland: Six Domestic Cases Following Screening Mix-Up

COVID-19 In Iceland: Six Domestic Cases Following Screening Mix-Up

Published July 27, 2020

Poppy Askham
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Six new domestic COVID-19 infections were reported on July 26th in connection with an Icelandic traveller who bypassed more stringent procedures for returning Icelandic citizens due to an administrative misunderstanding, Fréttablaðið reports.

The Icelander travelled to the country from the Baltics on July 15th and tested negative for COVID-19 at the airport. He is an Icelandic citizen but does not live permanently in the country and was not made aware that he needed to undergo a second screening under the new rules for returning Icelanders.

Shortly after arrival, the man started displaying COVID-19 symptoms and following his diagnosis six people were placed in quarantine, all of whom tested positive for the virus on Sunday, July 26th. There have now been eight domestic infections since July 23rd.

Under the “heimkomusmitgát” (homecoming contagion caution) rules which were brought in on July 13th, Icelandic citizens and residents are required to undergo a second COVID-19 screening 4-5 days after arrival. Until they get the results of the second test they should limit social interaction by maintaining two-metre distancing, not participating in gatherings of over ten people and avoiding high-risk individuals. The rules are in place to limit the risks of a false negative test result such as this.

The administrative error came about because the individual  used the English-language pre-registration form which does not oblige travellers to enter their kennitala as it is primarily meant for tourists. As he does not live in Iceland permanently he was not aware that the heimkomusmitgát rules applied to him. Only those who enter their kennitala are invited to a second sample, otherwise Icelanders are expected to register for a second screening themselves according to Kamilla Jósefsdóttir, Deputy Epidemiologist.

“It is clear that we need to strengthen the provision of information about [heimkomusmitgát] while we find some way to make an automatic reminder system even if Icelanders do not register their ID number.” Kamilla told Fréttablaðið. She stressed that the health authorities need to “make it more obvious who are the participants in Icelandic society in the registration system”.

The circumstances surrounding how the individual came to be infected and the false negative test result are currently unclear. Kamilla stated that it is likely that he had recently become infected before travelling meaning the virus was not detected in the border screening analysis. However, given the time period in which he started showing symptoms it is not possible to fully confirm that it is an imported infection especially given two recent domestic infections. Kamilla states that it is very unlikely that it is a domestic infection, but the possibility cannot be ruled out until deCODE genetics has sequenced the man’s sample.

In addition to the six domestic infections diagnosed yesterday, two travellers tested positive at the border screening service. There are currently 21 individuals in isolation and 173 in quarantine. The domestic incidence rate is 2.7 per 100,000 over the last 14 days and the incidence rate from border screenings is 3 per 100,000.

For more information on Iceland’s COVID-19 measures go to

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