Three-Year-Old’s Savings Account Emptied By Mistake

A savings account belonging to a child was emptied during an accidental bank transfer on Thursday, but thanks to the honesty of the 18-year-old recipient, the money was returned to its young owner.

RÚV reports that three-year-old Salka’s account was emptied of ISK 100,000 [$830; €735] this week when another customer asked to close their savings account and gave the wrong account number for the transaction. Salka’s savings were then transferred to a different bank account.

Salka’s mother, Solveig Rut, received a call from the young man who received the funds on Tuesday evening. “He called us just to let us know that he’d received ISK 100,000 from her, or thereabouts, and thought it was a bit strange and then I go and check our online banking portal and see that her account isn’t there,” Solveig Rut recalled. When contacted, the bank said they had no record of the transaction or the original account. The transaction was eventually located using the recipient’s national ID number. It was, then, entirely due to the boy’s honesty that the little girl’s savings were eventually returned to her.

The bank said they regretted the incident but chalked it up to human error. For her part, Solveig Rut says the episode has taught her the importance of keeping a closer eye on the family accounts. “This pushes you to be more alert and keep a better eye.”

Ísafjörður Celebrates the Return of Sun

Today is Sólardagur, or Sun Day, the day on which the residents of Ísafjörður in the Westfjords welcome the return of the sun, RÚV reports. During the dark winter days at the end of the year, the sun never crests the top of the mountains that line the Skutulsfjörður fjord. Today, however, the year’s first rays of the sun will shine over Ísafjörður and the village residents will celebrate this ‘sun-coming’ with a Sólarkaffi, or Sun Coffee, of coffee, homemade pancakes, and whipped cream.

“The shortest day of the year is December 21st and then the next time the sun is seen [in Ísafjörður] is January 25th,” explains Guðmundur Fr. Jóhannsson, who is the chairman of a society of Ísafjörður ‘expats’ who live in Reykjavík. “But if we go a just a little further back, it’s actually around November 16th that the sun starts to disappear from Sólgata,” he says, talking about ‘Sun Street,’ which runs through the centre of the village. “So it’s around two months, or 70 days, during which the sun isn’t visible. So there’s a real occasion to celebrate when the sun shines on Sólgata again.”

The Sólarkaffi tradition is so much beloved of Ísafjörður residents—or Ísafirdingar in Icelandic— that even those who have moved away still celebrate it. In fact, The Society of Ísafirðingar in Reykjavík has held its own Sólarkaffi for almost 74 years. “The Society of Ísafirðingar in Reykjavík was founded in April 1945 and held its first Sólarkaffi in 1946. It’s been held continuously ever since,” says Guðmundur. The Reykjavík event began as a simple Sunday afternoon gathering but has since turned into a Friday night dinner and dance. This year’s event will be held at Grand Hotel Reykjavík.

The Society of Ísafirðingar in Reykjavík, which currently boasts almost 600 members, hosts a number of social events throughout the year, as well as keeping a house in Ísafjörður that members can use. Originally, it was founded to ensure that Ísafirðingar didn’t lose touch with their roots, even though they might live somewhere else. The group’s marquee event is the Sólarkaffi, which though a very personal celebration for former residents, is not, Guðmundur hastens to add, an exclusive one. “Obviously everyone is welcome and you don’t have to be a member to [to attend].”

Director of Road Administration in Favour of Tolls

Route 1 Iceland

Bergþóra Þorkelsdóttir, Director of the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, says she’s in favour of introducing tolls on roads throughout Iceland, RÚV reports. “…[I]t’s just my personal opinion,” she remarked in an interview on a morning radio program, “[but] I have a hard time seeing how a 350,000-person population in a country this big would ever be able to build up the [road] system without taking in any kind of funds, like road tolls or something of that nature, such that our guests are participating in the financing of it in some way.”

The idea to implement widespread road tolls was part of a bill introduced to parliament in December. Developed by the Parliamentary Environmental and Communications Committee in close consultation with Minister of Transportation Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, the planned tolls are meant to offset a loss of income from gas and diesel taxes, which are expected to fall rapidly over the next few years due to the government’s environmental action plan. The tolls would not be collected via booths; rather, cameras installed at specific toll points along the road would record license plate numbers and charge drivers electronically. The hope is that the camera tolls would not disrupt the flow of traffic.

“The additional stress that’s on the system comes from people who come here and want to use it,” said Bergþóra. “And I really think that these tourists who want to come here are prepared to pay some kind of fee for using the country’s infrastructure.”

More HIV, Less Chlamydia Diagnoses in 2018

The number of people who were diagnosed with HIV in Iceland last year is considerably higher than in previous years, RÚV reports. According to the Directorate of Health’s newsletter, where this statistic was published on Thursday, there was also an increase in gonorrhea diagnoses in 2018. There were, however, fewer instances of chlamydia and syphilis infection last year.

Thirty-nine people were diagnosed with HIV in 2018. This is a noteworthy increase, in that in 2017 and 2016 combined, there were fewer than 30 people diagnosed with the virus, and only 10 people were diagnosed in 2015 and 2014 combined. The majority of the individuals infected in 2018, or 30 out of 39, are of foreign origin. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist believes that five of the individuals infected last year were infected in Iceland. Seventeen were infected via sexual intercourse, two via intravenous drug use, and there was one instance of in utero transmission abroad.

Just over 100 people were diagnosed with gonorrhea in Iceland last year. 80% of these infections occurred in Iceland, and 80% of those diagnosed were men. According to the Directorate of Health’s newsletter, gonorrhea bacteria that are multiply resistant to antibiotics is a growing problem abroad, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a problem in Iceland as well.

There were, happily, some positive trends concerning STI transmission last year. Thirty people were diagnosed with syphilis in 2018. This is below the previous average of 40 cases of infection, which held in 2017 as well. In previous years, there was a dramatic gender gap in diagnoses. For instance, 90% of people diagnosed with the disease were men in 2015. Last year, however, 60% of people diagnosed were men. There was also an even split between Icelanders and people of foreign origin who were diagnosed with syphilis in 2018. Previously, the majority of people diagnosed were Icelandic.

Chlamydia is also on the decline in Iceland. 1,634 people were diagnosed with the infection last year, versus 2,197 in 2017. It is possible, however, that this large drop is because not all instances of the infection were reported. Women make up a slightly higher percentage of the diagnoses, or 54%.