First Community Transmitted COVID-19 Infection in Two Months

Almost 70 people have been put into quarantine after being in contact with two Icelanders who have tested positive for COVID-19, reports. One of those who tested positive is a player for Breiðablík, one of the teams in Iceland’s top-tier women’s football league; the other is an employee who works for the Ministry of Industries and Innovation. According to a press release issued by the Department of Civil Protection, it’s possible that as many as 200 people will need to be quarantined.

According to Vísir, the football player came back from the US on June 17 and tested negative for COVID-19 when she was screened at the border. She proceeded to play in several football matches after that. After it was discovered that she had come into contact with a COVID-infected person in the US, however, the player was tested again for the virus and this time, the results came back positive. She is currently asymptomatic but has gone into quarantine, as have her teammates and coaches, as well as the teams that she played against and their coaches.

The ministry employee’s infection has been traced back to the football player. This is then the first case of community infection in Iceland in roughly two months. About 15 ministry employees have also been sent into quarantine.

“We’re talking to a lot of people”

“We’re taking this really seriously,” said Víðir Reynisson, director of Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. “We’re looking at this as a potential group infection and are working on it accordingly.”

Contact tracers are working diligently to identify all the people who have come into contact with both of the infected individuals.

“At the moment, we’re talking to a lot of people,” Víðir explained. “Then we’re preparing a comprehensive screening of the people who are connected with these infections.” Víðir said that this is somewhat atypical – it’s not a given that people who are sent into quarantine because they’ve interacted with COVID-infected people are definitely tested for the virus themselves. But the circumstances call for such measures, he says. The screenings began on Saturday and will continue for several days after that.

Víðir noted that the football player who the infection has been traced to has been really helpful in the contact tracing process. “She’s helped us a lot and let us know as soon as she got the information herself. Since then, she’s worked very closely with us.”

Per the announcement issued by the Department of Civil Protection, Icelanders returning from trips abroad are urged to be extra mindful and take additional precautions when coming home, even if they test negative for COVID-19 when they are screened at the border. The announcement also reminded people that if they’ve been told to go into quarantine because they’ve come in contact with a COVID-infected individual, they must remain in quarantine for the full 14 days, even if they receive a negative result to their own screening test before the 14 days are up.

‘Hop a Ride on the Midwife Mobile’

An electric bus adorned with an illustration of two women giving birth with the helping hands of unseen caretakers pays tribute to midwives and the work they do, Vísir reports. The ad, which simply reads “We warmly welcome you,” was sponsored by the Icelandic Midwives Association and made its maiden voyage on Wednesday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated 2020 the “Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,” in honour of Florence Nightingale, who was born 200 years ago. “These are the people who devote their lives to caring for mothers and children; giving lifesaving immunisations and health advice; looking after older people and generally meeting everyday essential health needs,” reads the campaign description. “They are often, the first and only point of care in their communities. The world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.”

Inviting locals to ‘Hop a ride on the midwife mobile,’ the Icelandic Midwives’ Association praised midwives for the vital role they play in the pregnancy and birth process, and noted that midwives also “provide education and services related to wellbeing, women’s health, and women’s bodies” and “work anywhere and everywhere, including in homes, out in the community, at hospitals, private facilities, and local health centres.”

The organisation then called for “a powerful platform” to be created for midwives and nurses, the better to allow them to participate in the creation of public policy related to healthcare services. “Studies have shown that when a midwife attends a birth, infant mortality rates and illness are reduced by almost 80%,” the call continues, “and premature births by 24%. In addition, under the care of midwives, more women are breastfeeding, women’s psychosocial health is better, and there are fewer interventions in births, particularly caesareans. The work of midwives is, therefore, indisputably important to the welfare of newborns and women; infant mortality in this country is among the lowest in the world.”

“For these reasons, the Icelandic Midwives Association wanted to take this opportunity to call attention to itself and in so doing, reiterate the importance of midwifery here in Iceland. Though we’ve achieved great things, it’s always possible to do better.”

The ‘Midwife Mobile’ is currently running along route #18 from Spöngin shopping mall in Grafarvogur to Hlemmur in downtown Reykjavík.