From Iceland — deCODE Rejoins Border Screening Initiative To Relieve Pressure On Landspítali

deCODE Rejoins Border Screening Initiative To Relieve Pressure On Landspítali

Published August 7, 2020

Poppy Askham
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Icelandic genetic research company, deCODE will once again begin assisting the health authorities with analysis of COVID-19 samples taken from travellers at the border, Visir reports.

In recent days, passenger numbers have strained Landspítali’s testing capacity. Over 2,100 passengers were screened yesterday, but the virology department can only process 2,000 samples a day. In order to alleviate the pressure on the hospital’s virology department, deCODE will resume analysis of samples taken at the border just weeks after the company withdrew from the project following a political row.

deCODE has offered its assistance to the virology department until they can improve their testing capacity. Health authorities have placed an order for equipment to allow increased sample analysis but it is not expected to arrive until October due to  global demand. deCODE is currently able to process 5,000 samples per day.

Since June 15th, 115,000 travellers have arrived in Iceland and 74,000 of whom have been tested for COVID-19 on arrival. Citizens and residents of Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Germany, Greenland and Norway are the only travellers that are currently exempt from screening requirements. Three new active infections were detected yesterday, bringing the total number of border cases to 32.

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason stated in a press conference on July 6th that without deCODE’s help, Iceland would have had to impose strict limits on the number of tourists entering the country. Þórólfur also revealed that he recently sent the Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir a memorandum advising that the border screening initiative continue in autumn. The final decision lies with the Health Minister.

There are currently 109 active COVID-19 infections in Iceland following 17 new domestic diagnoses yesterday. Over 900 individuals are in quarantine and the 14-day domestic incidence rate has risen to 26.5 per 100,000 according to

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