A colour coding system is to be implemented to track the spread of COVID-19 in Iceland, and act as a warning system to show where there is increased risk of infection, Vísir reports.
Civil Protection and the Chief Epidemiologist have worked together to construct the four colour system, based on that used by the Icelandic Met Office for their weather warnings. The idea behind the system is that it can be used to highlight how widespread the virus is becoming across the country, in very fine detail.
The final drafts of the system will be discussed at a workshop today. Grey, the lowest level on the system, will represent what the authorities are calling “new norm”, meaning that the virus is present but no stricter measures beyond the normal personal hygiene and social distancing need to be taken. The levels then go up from yellow (“be on guard”), to orange (“increased risk”) to the highest alert level of red (“high risk”). Any time an alert level is raised, instructions from authorities will follow. Institutions and companies are expected to set their own guidelines within the framework of the system, and implement measure that are proportionate to the alert level.
According to Jóhann K. Jóhannsson, Director of Civil Protection, “one aspect of the alert system is based on appealing to society as a whole and the responsibility of individuals, as the success of disease prevention is largely tied to their behaviour. Due to the amount of education that has taken place recently, both about the nature of infection control and the characteristics of COVID-19, it is assumed that people in Iceland are already well prepared and able to use good judgement using the new system and the extra knowledge it offers.”
Easy for the public to understand
The report submitted about the system goes on to state that “the colour coding system is not the same as the civic protection system – that is levels of uncertainty, danger and emergency – and responders will work accordingly. The system will be put in place for the public, as it is important to be able to express changes in the situation with a system that is commonly understood and that the public can interpret into their own situation.”
The colour codes can be used for the whole country, individual territories, municipalities or even institutions within municipalities. For example, a certain area may operate a red level due to wide spread infections, whilst the rest of the country is orange. “A school could be placed on orange alert even when the rest of the surrounding area is yellow. However, an institution cannot be a lighter colour than the area in which it operates”, says the report.
It is hoped that this system will help increase long term predictability and help minimise the overall damage the virus causes in Icelandic society.
The system is due to be implemented in the next few days.
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