COVID-19 – status and steps taken in Iceland
Icelandic authorities, in cooperation with health officials, have taken important steps to contain the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus and minimize the effects on the country. Promote Iceland is liaising with stakeholders and relevant authorities on a constant basis, watching the situation closely and taking measures where appropriate.
UPDATE 20th March 2020: Iceland has implemented the travel restrictions imposed for the Schengen Area and the European Union.
The above stated travel restrictions remain valid until 17 April 2020. Citizens within the Schengen area can still travel without restriction to Iceland during that time and without restrictions to travelling within the country. A ban on public events and gatherings organized for over 100 people has however been imposed by authorities - effective as of Monday 16th March and for four weeks.
Icelandic authorities are well equipped to handle the situation and emphasis has been put on keeping flow of information of latest development clear and available to the public. This is e.g being done via daily press conferences with health and national security officials via news channels. Latest updates as well as useful information can always be found on the website www.covid.is.
Iceland has few entry points and the lowest population density in Europe. As a result, health authorities have been able to move swiftly to identify, communicate with and, where necessary, quarantine Icelandic residents. In the light of the country being an island, special emphasis has been put on identifying residents and travellers returning from high-risk areas in preventive actions as well as those who have been in contact with infected individuals, to contain spread of the virus. A proportionally high number of samples have this way been taken from arriving passengers to achieve early detection of infections.
To begin with most of infected cases in Iceland were directly linked to travels to high risk areas, mostly in Northern Italy and Austria. So far a few diagnosed individuals have been admitted to hospital as severely ill. Death of one Icelandic resident has been reported (as of 23rd. March). As pre-emptive measure close to nine thousand people have at some point been in or are in home-quarantine for 14 days, having either recently returned from high risk areas or come into contact with infected individuals.
Nationwide screening underway
Icelandic authorities are in cooperation with an Icelandic biotech company, deCode Genetics, about carrying out a nationwide screening of the spread of the virus - with the aim of facilitating future actions to curb the spread of the virus.
As of 13th March deCODE is carrying out a large scale testing of the general population in Iceland - for COVID-19. The purpose of the screening is meant to inform those who have symptoms whether they have the virus, in conjunction with the Directorate of Health, in order to assist already ongoing efforts. The initiative has been well received from the start and thousands of Icelanders signed up for the initiative.
For more useful links on Covid-19 and Iceland see the Inspired by Iceland website here.