From Iceland — COVID Roundup: New Numbers, New Border Restrictions, Herd Immunity Questions

COVID Roundup: New Numbers, New Border Restrictions, Herd Immunity Questions

Published August 9, 2021

Photo by
Lögreglan

Last Friday, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced new regulations at Iceland’s border. This will entail taking samples from arrivals to Iceland who are Icelandic residents, including those who have been vaccinated. Results from these screenings can be expected within 48 hours, and people will not be required to quarantine while awaiting results. This will go into effect on and from August 16th.

Vaccinations

The Delta variant wave is prompting a ramping up and expansion of vaccinations. Laugardalshöll will open again for mass vaccinations on August 16th, and will specifically aim for giving vaccinations to previous Janssen recipients, children aged 12 to 15, and frontline workers in both health care and schools.

While children in this age group are expected to receive their shots on the 23rd and 24th, this happens to be the same day that many grade schools will be opening again. This has been criticised as poorly timed, and there are also increasing calls to give the fully vaccinated a third shot to boost the immune system further.

Herd immunity

While about 90% of the Icelandic population is fully vaccinated, the continued presence of the Delta variant has many wondering if the coronavirus is going to be a part of Iceland’s everyday reality in the long term. Amongst them is chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason. Yesterday morning, he told radio station Bylgjan that achieving herd immunity against the virus may mean letting the virus spread while protecting the most vulnerable in the country.

These comments provoked a strong response across social media, and Þórólfur walked those statements back by the evening, saying that he was misunderstood. He emphasised that it is still the goal of Icelandic authorities to create herd immunity, but that this would be best done by increasing restrictions at the border, bring in new domestic restrictions, and provide more vaccination booster shots for those already vaccinated. A clearer plan of action can therefore likely be expected in the days and weeks to come.

Newest numbers

119 new cases were detected domestically on Friday, and 57 were detected on Saturday, with three people checking out from hospital.

106 new domestic cases of the coronavirus were detected yesterday, according to the latest data from covid.is. 62 were outside quarantine at the time of diagnosis.

24 people are currently hospitalised with the virus. 2,232 people are currently in quarantine, with another 1,384 in isolation. The 14-day incidence of infection per 100,000 people is now 429, while incidence at border screening is now at 5.7.

While vaccinations do not 100% prevent infection or transmission of the coronavirus, they do drastically reduce the severity of infection and chance of transmission. The general public is advised to install the Rakning C-19 app if they have not done so already, and to update it if they already have. In addition, people are encouraged to continue to practice social distancing, masking up, frequent use of hand sanitiser, to avoid coming in contact with the immunocompromised, and to get themselves tested if they sense any symptoms of the virus.

Bear in mind that there are new domestic restrictions and border restrictions now in effect.

255,322 people have so far been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as of August 6th. Note that “fully vaccinated” means at least two weeks have passed since receiving both vaccinations. 16,851 vaccinations are underway, while 275,173 people have received at least the first dose.

The schedule of which demographics are getting the vaccine and when can be found here.

More statistics and information can be found at covid.is or below.

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