Icelandic Lamb Exported to China for the First Time

Icelandic lamb

The first shipment of Icelandic lamb was exported to China this week, RÚV reports. Björn Víkingur Björnsson, CEO of Fjallalamb Ltd, says the meat was well received, which bodes well for increased export opportunities in the near future.

Icelandic lamb producer Fjallalamb is the first and, so far, only company to have been granted a license to export lamb to China and has been working to get its product onto the Chinese market for two years, ever since the two countries revised the terms of their free trade agreement in 2018. Per the revised terms, exported lamb must receive a health certification; exported meat may only come from lambs under six months of age that were born and bred in scrapie-free regions. Slaughterhouses, meat packing centres, and storage centres where the meat is processed or held must also be located in scrapie-free regions. Fjallalamb is currently the only Icelandic lamb producer to fulfil these requirements.

Fjallalamb’s first test shipment contained around 20 tonnes of lamb. Björn Víkingur says that it took a long time to find companies that could connect Fjallalamb with the market it’s seeking to enter in China, namely “high-class restaurants.”

The CEO continued that his company’s Chinese customers “are extremely interested – they’ve tasted the meat and want to make an ongoing agreement.”

At the time that Fjallalamb received its export license, Björn Víkingur said that it was not possible for the company to sell all its product on the Icelandic market. In order to meet demand in China, however, it’s likely that the company will need to increase its production, although it’s unclear at this time by just how much. “If it works out that farmers can increase production and if, as I think is likely, China wants more in the fall if all goes well, then this could be a promising situation.”

University Students Assist Contact Tracing Team

Háskóli Íslands University of Iceland

One hundred health sciences students at the University of Iceland are assisting the Department of Civil Defense’s contact tracing team, RÚV reports.

Auður Kristjánsdóttir, a Master’s student in the physiotherapy department, is one of the students participating in contact tracing efforts. “We are just calling people and finding out if they’re aware that they should be in quarantine and checking on how they’re feeling, whether they are symptomatic and then [if so] directing them to call their local health clinic or 1700 [Iceland’s COVID-19 hotline],” she explained.

Auður said that she was just at home working on her thesis project when the contract tracing team reached out for student volunteers. “I thought I could help,” she said. “It’s gone well – we get a standard interview script that we go through and the interviews are, of course, confidential. People have responded well, they’ve been willing to provide their information in order to try and curtail the spread of the virus.”

Not Everyone on Waitlist for Detox Clinic Needs to Be, Says Minister

As of March, 530 people were on the waitlist for admission to Vogur, the hospital and detoxification clinic run by Iceland’s National Center of Addiction Medicine (SÁÁ), RÚV reports. Of those 530, 115 individuals were slated to be admitted within the next three weeks. Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir says, however, that the list could be significantly shortened, as not everyone on the list has a genuine need for inpatient treatment.

Svandís outlined her reasoning in her response to an inquiry from Centre Party MP Sigurður Páll Jónsson.

A least a third of those who go on Vogur’s waitlist opt not to enter treatment for a variety of reasons. As such, Svandís says that it’s likely that not everyone currently on the list needs inpatient treatment to address their addiction problems. In some cases, she asserted, milder solutions may suffice, and these could be employed where appropriate to reduce the waitlist.

There are also people on the list, reported Svandís, who registered without a prior professional assessment. The Minister wants to change this and require that anyone on the waitlist for inpatient treatment first undergo a professional assessment to confirm that they do indeed need to enter the inpatient facility. Doing so, she concluded, would ensure that only those who truly need to undergo inpatient treatment make use of these limited services.