Víðir Reynisson, the chief of Civic Protection and part of Iceland’s coronavirus response team leadership, said at a press conference today that a great many foreigners living in Iceland, some of them children, have been harassed and bullied by others with racism and xenophobia due to pandemic fears.
However, it bears mentioning that these attacks can at least in part be attributed to remarks by public health officials who have singled out foreigners for possible causes of recent outbreaks.
“We have often said that the virus is the enemy in this,” Víðir told reporters. “No one should get infected if no one infects anyone else. But we are now getting information that children and adults who are connected to group infections—who have ended up a part of group infections—are getting hateful messages. Are getting racist and very ugly messages. They are even getting harassed on the street, solely because it seems they come from certain countries.”
That said, Víðir himself told reporters, in the wake of an outbreak that rose up in a playschool less than two weeks ago, that amongst those who break quarantine, that it was “actually almost all of them of foreign nationalities.”
Kári Stefánsson, CEO of deCODE Genetics, has also been very vocal about foreigners and the coronavirus. Just last month he issued numerous inaccurate statements about foreigners working abroad and returning to Iceland to collect unemployment as being one contributing factor in the spread of the virus.
With all this in mind, it must be emphasised that foreign residents living in Iceland do for the most part abide quarantine guidelines, and that tourists and people born in Iceland have also been known to break quarantine. Ultimately, the coronavirus does not care about nationality, nor is nationality any indication as to whether or not someone has or has not broken quarantine.
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