From Iceland — Five Times More Residents In Epidemic Houses Than In First Wave

Five Times More Residents In Epidemic Houses Than In First Wave

Published August 27, 2020

Catherine Magnúsdóttir
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There are five times more residents staying in so called epidemic houses than there were during the first wave of the coronavirus in Iceland.

According to a report by RÚV, total of 276 people have stayed in the epidemic houses, located in Reykjavík and Akureyri, since the second wave began, whereas during the first wave it had been about 50 people.

The buildings house people arriving in Iceland who have tested positive for COVID-19, tourists as well as returning Icelanders that can’t stay at home to quarantine or self isolate.

Gylfi Þór Þorsteinsson, the supervisor of the epidemic houses, told RÚV that 20 Icelanders have stayed in epidemic houses during the second wave. The majority of those staying in the epidemic houses were asylum seekers who stayed in quarantine for 4-5 days after being screened at the border. He’s reported to have said that no asylum seeker had been diagnosed infected in Iceland, neither at the border nor in the second screening.

The houses are “staffed” by people working for the Red Cross or volunteers, although according to Gylfi the number of volunteers has decreased tenfold from 40 to four since the spring, while the number of guests has riven fivefold.

When asked about an explanation for this significant decrease in volunteers, Gylfi told RÚV that he attributes the effect to the state of the economy and its increased pace compared to spring, which might be making it more difficult to find willing volunteers. It could also be that people might have been willing to put more effort into overcoming the epidemic during its first wave.

Gylfi also said that it’s out of the question to reject guests, although he deems it unlikely that they will find more volunteers.

RÚV also reports that neither employees nor volunteers were infected with the virus and that they play an essential part in the guest’s well-being and recovery, not only physically but mentally as well, as some have had to remain in an epidemic building for up to six weeks.

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

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