Toddler Diagnosed with COVID-19

COVID-19 Press conference Þórólfur Guðnason Alma Möller V'iðir Reynisson

A child just over the age of one was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday, RÚV reports. According to Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, the child is currently asymptomatic.

The child arrived with their mother from Albania on June 20. The woman was confirmed to have COVID-19. Ten people connected to the woman were tested as a result of her diagnosis and 15 are now in quarantine.

See Also: First Community Transmitted COVID-19 Infection in Two Months

There have been eight confirmed cases of community infection in Iceland since travel restrictions were relaxed roughly two weeks ago. Over 400 people are still in quarantine following contact with a soccer player who returned from the US in mid-June. The player tested negative for COVID-19 at the border, but after discovering that she’d been in contact with a person with COVID-19 in the US, she was tested again and the second time, her test came back positive.

Gathering bans in Iceland have now relaxed to allow as many as 500 people to gather in one place. (This excludes children of primary school age, whose may gather in larger groups.) Scheduled events such as summer football tournaments for children, expected to draw as many as 2,300 children over a weekend, are still a source of concern for authorities who stress the risks. Such large gatherings are “undesirable,” remarked Þórólfur in a press conference, but as of yet, authorities have not intervened to postpone or cancel them.

Herbal Fragrance Library Opens

Nordic Angan, or the Icelandic Herbal Fragrance Library, is now open in the town of Mosfellsbær, just outside of Reykjavík. The library is the brainchild of Elín Hrund Þórgeirsdóttir and Sonja Bent who, per a recent press release, put considerable research and effort into “capturing the sweet scent of Icelandic flora by distilling plants and trees and making essential oils out of them.”

Jonny Devaney

Visitors can walk through interactive fragrance exhibitions and “experience the aroma of Icelandic nature in a fun and unusual way, stimulate their sense of smell, and enjoy nature in an untraditional manner. The collection is the only one of its kind because there’s no other library that focuses solely on the sweet scents of Icelandic nature.”

Guests can also walk through the “Scented Shower,” an installation inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing.’ The installation diffuses scents of the Icelandic forest into the air and allows guests to walk through a cool, aromatic mist of water and essential oils.

Jonny Devaney

The library has received funding from the Technological Development Fund, the Design Fund, and a grant for women entrepreneurs in Iceland and was in development for two years before opening.

The Icelandic Herbal Fragrance Library is located at 27 Álafossvegur in Mosfellsbær and is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12.00-5.00pm. Admission is ISK 1,200 ($8.60/€7.60) per person.

Björk to Stage Three Unplugged, Fundraising Concerts in August

This August, Björk will stage three, special matinee performances to raise awareness about, and funds for, causes important to her. “i want to invite you to some concerts,” she wrote in a Facebook post in late June. “i want to celebrate that we’ve at least made it through the first stage of the coronavirus epidemic and honour the many icelandic musicians i’ve worked with through the years.”

“i recorded almost all of my albums with local musicians,” Björk wrote in a translation of her post on the Harpa website:

homogenic with an icelandic string octet

medulla with schola cantorum ( an icelandic mixed choir )

volta with 10 brass girls i found all over the island and then later they formed wonderbrass

biophilia with langholt´s church girl choir graduale nobili

vulnicura with a 15 piece string ensemble

utopia with 12 female fluteplayers who later formed the flute septet viibra

cornucopia with hamrahlíð´s choir conducted by þorgerður ingólfsdóttir

all these albums where then performed all around the planet with these musicians

together they are over hundred people !!

and we are going to celebrate that we are all healthily exiting quarantine together by playing concerts in harpa

my input into the feminist fight is to brag about that almost all of those arrangements are by me

unfortunately this is something that is almost always ignored when women are arrangers

Björk Orkestral – Live from Reykjavík” will be comprised of three, unique unplugged/acoustic performances. For the first performance, she’ll perform with the Hamrahlið Choir (conductor Þorgerður Ingólfsdóttir) and organist Bergur Þórisson. The following week, she’ll be accompanied by the string section of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra (conductor Bjarni Frímann Bjarnason), and finally, for the last performance, she’ll be joined by the brass section of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, the flute septet Viibra, and harpists Katie Buckley and Jónas Sen.

Each of the performances will be held in the afternoon and streamed live, giving viewers the opportunity to donate to Kvennaathvarfið, a local women’s shelter which provides assistance to women and children who have had to leave their homes because of domestic violence. In-person attendees will have the opportunity to purchase food after the show, the proceeds of which will also support the shelter.

Referencing the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Björk concluded by writing:

i feel we are going through extraordinary times

horrifying but also an opportunity to truly change

it is demanded of us that we finally confront all racism

that we learn that lives are more important that profit

and look inside us and finecomb out all our hidden prejudices and privileges

let´s all humbly learn together


humongous love

Tickets for the concerts will go on sale at noon on July 3.

Storytel Purchases Majority Share in Forlagið, Iceland’s Largest Publisher

iceland books

Sweden’s e- and audiobook giant Storytel AB has acquired a 70% majority interest in Forlagið, Iceland’s largest publishing house. A press release confirms that Mál og menning, which maintains a publishing imprint (one of five under the auspices of Forlagið), as well as a literary journal, will remain a 30% minority owner in the publisher. Forlagið will continue to operate “independently from Storytel Iceland’s streaming operations on the local market.”

Forlagið now joins the ranks of three other Nordic publishers under the Storytell umbrella: Norstedts Förlagsgrupp (SWE), People’s Press (DEN) and Gummerus Publishers (FIN). “We are excited to welcome Forlagið to the Storytel family and our publishing business area,” wrote Jonas Tellander, CEO and founder of Storytel. “It feels fantastic to join forces with the proficient and skilled publishers at Forlagið, who share our passion for great authorships and stories.”

Forlagið CEO Egill Örn Jóhannsson expressed equal optimism about the deal, particularly as regards the potential he sees it having for bringing Icelandic authors to a broader global readership. “This will open up new markets for the authors of Forlagið and help us take a big step into the future and closer to the modern reader and listener. This deal will surely reinforce and future-proof Forlagið’s business. It will also cement our mission to continue publishing the best of Icelandic literature, to bring this literature to the audience via all means expected, and open new doors for our authors all over the world.”

Icelandic authors ‘blindsided’

The sale was not met with equal enthusiasm in all literary quarters, however. According to Ragnheiður Tryggvadóttir, the managing director of the Icelandic Writers Union, the sale “blindsided” Icelandic authors, whose concerns regarding rights-holding and future publishing policy have poured into the union since the sale was announced. “Our main concern is whether a foreign corporation…will be passionate about publishing Icelandic literature,” said Ragnheiður.

“People are taken aback that such a big share of an Icelandic publisher is now owned by a foreign company. Because we without question look at ourselves as guardians of the Icelandic language and the Icelandic language as the basis of our nation’s culture. So our first reaction is that this doesn’t make any sense.”

The union and its members would have never thought it possible that the copyright of such a huge percentage of the country’s literary heritage would be sold to a foreign entity, continued Ragnheiður. “The idea was totally foreign to us until yesterday morning.”

History of acquiring ‘legacy print publishing houses’

Storytel currently operates audiobook streaming services in 20 countries, including Brazil, Bulgaria, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates, although the Nordic market—Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden—currently accounts for the majority of its business. In addition to buying up “upstart competitors” in the audiobook market, as an article in Publishers Weekly outlined last year, Storytel has also set its sights on expanding into the print market, and has done so through the acquisition of “legacy print publishing houses” in regional markets, such as Forlagið.