Swan is Saved After Getting Bill Stuck in Can

A swan that had been residing on Urriðakot lake in the municipality of Garðabær was saved from certain death earlier today, Morgunblaðið reports. The swan had managed to get his bill stuck in half a can of Red Bull at least two weeks ago, preventing the swan from feeding. Today, a team from the Icelandic Institute of Natural History finally captured the bird and removed the can. The swan is now convalescing at Reykjavík’s Fjölskyldu- og Húsdýragarðurinn Park and Zoo.

According to reports, people living close to the lake had spotted the troubled bird, but had no luck in trying to capture or assist the animal. According to Ólafur Nielsen of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, the swan was close to death when he and his team managed to capture the bird today and swiftly remove the can. “The bird was exhausted and dying on the lake,” Ólafur says. “That’s why we were quick to capture it.”

The swan’s bruised bill has been disinfected and the bird has been moved to Fjölskyldu- og Húsdýragarðurinn Park and Zoo while it recuperates. Ólafur is hopeful that the swan will regain its former strength. “The bird was pretty stocky,” he says, adding that he’s confident the zoo will take good care of it.

Ólafur says that the swan’s case is sadly not an isolated one, with the Icelandic Institute of Natural History regularly dealing with birds that have gotten stuck in plastic or other garbage.

Fjölskyldu- og Húsdýragarðurinn Park and Zoo has already posted about the unlucky swan on their Facebook site, saying that after being tended to, the swan has already started eating and will stay at the zoo for as long as it

Myeloma Research Team Receives Generous Grant

Háskóli Íslands University of Iceland

A research group at the University of Iceland, led by Sigurður Yngvi Kristinsson, professor of blood disease, has received a generous grant of 300 million ISK to amass biological samples of Icelanders, according to a university statement. The project is a part of the national initiative Blóðskimun til bjargar (“Blood Screening to the Rescue”) and is one of the largest science research projects in the world. Around 80 thousand Icelanders will take part by donating blood and bone marrow samples.

The grant is given by the Black Swan Research Initiative, a project within the International Myeloma Foundation, an American non-profit organisation serving patients with myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow.

Myeloma is currently an incurable disease, with 25 people being diagnosed in Iceland every year and 200 thousand people in the rest of the world. With increasing research and new and improved medication, patient prognosis has improved dramatically over the past years.

Iceland’s myeloma blood screening initiative was first introduced in 2016, in partnership with the University of Iceland. The aim of the initiative is to look at the effects of blood screening and how it can help in understanding the disease, increasing the quality of life of those who are diagnosed with myeloma and hopefully one day find a cure. Every Icelander born in 1975 or earlier was offered to take part, with about 80 thousand people agreeing to participate.

The grant awarded to Sigurður and his team will enable them to build up an impressive blood and bone marrow sample collection for the Blood Screening to the Rescue initiative, which will have an application in further research down the line pertaining to the diagnosis and treatment of myeloma. “When new technology will be introduced we will be able to access our sample bank,” Sigurður says. “We’ll also be able to use more precise techniques to diagnose myeloma cells, even when it’s just one cell amongst millions, both in blood and bone marrow.”

The International Myeloma Foundation’s grant is a godsend to Sigurður and his team, who are optimistic about the future of myeloma research. “We’ve had such an amazing participation from the Icelandic public. The project will help us create valuable knowledge that hitherto hasn’t existed. We’ll be able to generate information on the beginning stages of myeloma and follow-up treatment,” a delighted Sigurður says.

Eleven Month Old Child Infected by Measles

Icelandair Boeing 737 MAX

An 11 month old child was diagnosed with measles last weekend. The virus is thought to have entered into the country via a person that came to Iceland from the Philippines last February 14 on an Icelandair flight, the Directorate of Health has stated.

The child, who was on the same Icelandair flight, is the first to have caught the virus from the individual, and currently considered to be the only one. The child was unvaccinated but has since received treatment and vaccination. After the original person’s sickness became apparent, a warning was sent out to those who travelled on the same flight, and a subsequent flight to Egilsstaðir taken by the unnamed patient zero.

Measles are a virus and are considered a highly contagious infectious disease. Around 10% of children who contract measles run the risk of further health complications, such as encephalitis and pneumonia, as a result.

In Iceland, children around 18 months are vaccinated against the virus, making the disease a rare occurrence in the country. Since 2016, however, there have been repeated cases of measles in flights that have had a layover in Iceland. Luckily, the virus has had a hard time spreading, due to the country’s herd immunity, stemming from years of successful vaccination.

Majority of Icelanders Support Strikers

More than half of Icelanders support intended strikes by the unions Efling, VR, the Union of Akranes and the Union of Grindavík, Fréttablaðið reports. The unions have entered into discussions with SA Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise to raise pay among a certain group of their union members. Less than a third of Icelanders are against the strike.

These are the results of a survey conducted by Zenter research. The survey was made on the last day of February and the first day of March, with 1.441 people taking part. All individuals who answered Zenter’s questions were over 18 years of age and their answers were graded on the basis of age, gender and place of residence for the best representation of the nation’s attitudes towards the intended strike.

Union negotiations with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, SA, have reportedly gotten nowhere. Late last week, Efling members who work in cleaning jobs voted on a one day strike, set for next Friday, March 8, with an overwhelming majority supporting the procedure. Reportedly not everyone agrees on whether the voting was legitimately handled or not, a dispute that will be handled by Iceland’s Labour Court. VR union is also planning on intermittent strikes this month, with a full-blown strike planned for the beginning of April should their demands not be be met by that time.

According to Zenter’s survey, about 56% of participants said they supported the union’s actions. About one in seven people was neither against nor for them and about a third was against them.

The strikes found the biggest support amongst those living in Reykjanes, or about 73% of inhabitants, closely followed by the populace of Northern and Eastern Iceland, where 60% support the intended actions of the unions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the head of SA Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, Halldór Benjamín, downplayed the results of Zenter’s survey. “Considering how much wages have been discussed in the country recently, I’m a little surprised that there isn’t more support for the strikes than we are seeing there,” Halldór said, “especially since most people are expecting someone other than themselves to strike.”

“Strikes in a cooling economy, when capelin fishing is low and our airlines are having a tough time, is very risky business with a very unclear outcome,” Halldór warned.