Costco Offers Customers a Golden Opportunity

Iceland had its own mini gold rush on Wednesday after Costco advertised gold bars for sale, RÚV reports. The wholesale retailer sold its entire treasure trove, worth four million krónur [$28,785; €24,289], in a single day.

Advertised in an email sent to customers on Tuesday night, tucked in amongst deals on rain slickers, Sirloin steaks, power tools, and brownie bites, six gold bars were available on a first-come, first-serve basis; two of each in the weights of 20, 50, and 100 grams [.7; 1.8; 3.5 oz]. Demand for the pirate’s booty was certainly higher, however: a Costco employee said that nearly every call they received the next day was an inquiry about the lavish loot. Luckily, more gold bars are expected to be available in the near future.

The gold bars weighing 20 grams were priced at ISK 224,000 [$1,611; €1,360]; the 50-gram bars were sold for ISK 550,000 [$3,957; €3,339], the 100-gram bars for ISK 1.12 million [$8,058; €6,800].

Per these prices, Costco was offering its golden plunder for ISK 11,000 a gram [$79; €67]. The global market price for gold fluctuates constantly, but at time of writing, the market price was ISK 8,630 a gram [$62; €52].

All Building Occupants Must Approve Quarantine Rentals

Airbnb properties in houses with multiple apartments may not be rented out for quarantine purposes without the consent of all building residents, RÚV reports. This was determined by the Homeowner’s Association at the request of the Icelandic Tourist Board, which has been compiling a list of accommodations available to people while in quarantine, for example, between COVID-19 screenings upon arrival to the country.

The Tourist Board received 385 responses to its inquiry regarding quarantine-ready properties, most of which were from hotels and guesthouses. At least one respondent, however, was known to own an apartment in a multiple-residence house which they rent via Airbnb. As such, the Tourist Board reached out to the Homeowner’s Association chair and Supreme Court attorney Sigurður Helgi Guðjónsson to find out what the parameters of renting such a property for the purposes of quarantine might be. Given the risks and inconvenience posed by one occupant of a building renting out a unit for quarantine purposes, Sigurður Helgi determined that the rights of the other occupants to refuse to allow a quarantine rental outstripped those of the apartment owner to rent the property.

The Directorate of Health has set conditions for what accommodations may be used for quarantine, as well as services and assistance that may be provided to those in quarantine by the renter. The fact that so many hotels and guesthouses are prepared to meet these conditions and open their properties for quarantine use says a lot about the current market, notes Elías Bj. Gíslason, the Icelandic Tourist Board’s Director of Quality and Development.

“Naturally, everyone’s just trying to save themselves right now.”


Teachers’ Work Not Confined to the Classroom, Union Says

Primary school teachers are seeking increased flexibility as part of their new wage contract, RÚV reports. Wage negotiations are underway, but teachers have been without a contract for over a year and are growing impatient.

Bargaining committees for primary school teachers and the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities are now meeting on a regular basis with the goal of signing a new contract by October 1. The teachers’ collective bargaining agreement ended in July of last year, at which point they agreed to an extension of the negotiation period. Þorgerður Laufey Diðriksdóttir, chair of the Association of Primary School Teachers, says that teachers are demanding a pay raise in accordance with the Living Wage Agreement. She also says that it’s time for municipalities to recognize that the work of a teacher is not confined to the classroom.

“It’s become apparent during COVID that we’re doing a job that can be both onsite and remote. It’s not just preparation that might take place offsite, but as we’ve clearly seen, teaching may also be done remotely.”

Þorgerður says that for years, the teachers’ contract has been based on the idea that they should be doing most of their work while at school. “This hasn’t led to better education—on the contrary, it’s caused grief and discomfort for a lot of people, having experienced this inflexibility.”

As such, Þorgerður says that an increased flexibility, that is to say, a broader understanding of what teachers do—and where they do it—is a requirement as they continue with negotiations.

Retesting Needed After Cancer Screening Misdiagnosis


The Icelandic Cancer Society has reexamined 6,000 cancer screening tests after it was revealed that a sample was misdiagnosed in 2018, RÚV reports. The woman whose test was misdiagnosed has incurable cervical cancer. Forty-five women have been asked to return to the clinic for further testing as a result, but the Cancer Society says that the misdiagnosis was an isolated incident and the individuals who have been called back in do not have such serious cases.

In the case of the woman whose sample was misdiagnosed, the test she took in 2018 should have detected cellular changes that indicate cancer. The Cancer Society issued a statement about the misdiagnosis, explaining that the employee who examined her sample had just returned to work from sick leave and it’s possible, although unconfirmed, that the employee‘s poor health contributed to the error in diagnosis. The employee resigned of their own volition some time ago.

The Cancer Society has since conducted a review of all the samples that the former employee examined. Some of the samples have been determined to warrant further analysis, but none of them are of such a serious nature.

Ninety per cent of cancers can be detected through regular screening, the Cancer Society maintains, but it does happen that cellular changes are sometimes not detected in screenings. This may be due to misdiagnosis, or it may be that the cancer develops within a short period of time. “A misdiagnosis does not automatically mean that there has been a mistake made,” reads the Cancer Society statement. The clinic also said that new equipment was put into use last year specifically to reduce the risk of human error in sample analysis and diagnosis and that ten per cent of all samples taken at the clinic are also reviewed by two different staff members.