Strict measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 in Iceland
Icelandic authorities are taking strict measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 disease in the country. The heaviest focus has been on testing, contact tracing and quarantine of individuals considered to be likely carriers. Furthermore, very strict measures have been in place for several weeks to protect the groups considered most vulnerable from infection as well as measures to minimize the risk of infection at medical establishments.
According to numbers published by the government on Wednesday 25 March, a total of 11 727 individuals have been tested for the virus that causes COVID-19. This translates to 32 217 on a per million basis. This is the highest proportion of tests performed by any individual country.
The tests have been performed on two different cohorts.
A total of 5 564 tests have been performed by the National University hospital of Iceland in Reykjavík, mostly on individuals who were symptomatic or were considered to be likely to have contracted the virus due to proximity to infected individuals or other reasons. Out of these 5 564 tests, 4 879 have been negative and 685 positive.
A total of 6 163 tests have been performed on the general population, individuals who had not been ordered to quarantine and were generally asymptomatic or showed mild symptoms. Out of these 6 163 tests, 6 111 have been negative and 52 positive.
As of today a total of 737 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Iceland. 68 people are cured. Two people who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 have died, one a tourist who showed unusual symptoms, the other an Icelander. 15 are currently hospitalized and 2 in intensive care. Of those currently identified as infected 23 are over the age of 70, the most at-risk age group.
Restrictions on gatherings
As of midnight Monday 23 March, a ban on gatherings of 20 or more individuals has taken effect in Iceland. These measures were put in place following recommendations from the Chief Epidemiologist to Svandís Svavarsdóttir Icelands‘s Minister of Health. The ban will remain in force until 12 April 2020. A previous 100-person limit had been in place since 16 March.
Further, people must ensure that they keep a distance of at least two (2) meters between individuals. University and secondary education institutions have been closed since 16 March, but primary and preschools remain open with specific measures instituted to limit the risk of infection.
A very visible public campaign emphasising awareness of personal habits that reduce transmission risk, such as hand-washing and distancing in social interactions, has been running since early February. Daily press briefings have been held at 14 every day since 27 February.