Highest Number of COVID Cases to be Diagnosed in a Single Day Since April

COVID-19 test

Seventy-five domestic cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed on Friday, the highest number of infections that Iceland has had in a single day since April 1, when 99 cases were diagnosed. RÚV reports that half of those diagnosed with the virus were already in quarantine.

Young People Make Up Majority of COVID-19 Infections

Of the 135 people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 over the last week, 70 of them are aged 18 – 29 and 40 are aged 30 to 39. Seven children aged six to 12 have also been diagnosed with the virus.

Currently, all but two positive infections are located in the capital area. Roughly a third of those are connected to bars and clubs in downtown Reykjavík. People who went to the Irishman Pub on Klapparstígur on Friday, September 11 between 4pm and 11pm were asked to come in for COVID-19 testing after several cases were traced to the bar, but the pub is not the only venue that group infections have been traced to.

See Also: Capital-Area Bars and Clubs Closed Over Weekend

“The main point in all of this, of course, is that we have to do all the things now that we did so well this spring,” remarked Víðir Reynisson, Chief Superintendent of Civil Protection. “We need to be careful about who we meet. We need to avoid crowds, keep our distance, and our own disease prevention efforts are really important right now. No matter what actions are taken now [by authorities], each and every one of us needs to take our own action, and do so immediately.”

Víðir confirmed that it is likely that gathering bans and social distancing requirements will get stricter in the coming days, but said that precisely what measures would be taken was still being considered by Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason and his advisors, based on such factors as the seriousness of the current cases and further information about how the virus has spread.

“It’s clear, however,” concluded Víðir, “that these measures will primarily center around the capital area.”

One Hundred and Thirty-Five Cases Diagnosed in Last Five Days

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, positive diagnoses of the virus have exceeded 75 seven times. The highest number of cases to be diagnosed in one day was 106 on March 24.

Over the last five days, 135 cases of COVID-19 have been detected. At time of writing, 181 people were in isolation and 765 in quarantine. Two people have been hospitalized. Incidence of domestic infection is currently 41.7 per 100,000 inhabitants.

On Friday, 3,629 people were tested for COVID-19, 1,186 of whom were showing symptoms of the virus. Just under 5% of those who were showing symptoms tested positive.


Of Cows and Courage: New Picture Book Celebrates Heroic Heifer

A new picture book celebrates the heroic feats of a brave cow and the kindness of strangers, RÚV reports.

In October 1987, it looked like Sæunn the Cow’s life was quickly coming to its end. Known then as Harpa, she and two of her compatriots were being led to slaughter in the Westfjords village of Flateyri when she decided to take fate by the reins and make a daring escape. Rushing toward the sea, Sæunn flung herself into the fjord of Önundarfjörður and swam three kilometres across it. Many cows would have simply given up mid-swim or turned back around, but not her. Instead, she paddled on and, reaching the shore at Valþjófsdalur farm, was met by a friendly couple who rechristened her with a name befitting her feat (Sæunn, ‘sæ-’ meaning ‘sea’) and gave her safe haven for the rest of her days.

Screenshot from a 1987 program on RÚV about Sæunn’s sea swim to freedom

Sæunn’s story has now been memorialized in a picture book written and published by Eyþór Jóvinsson, a bookseller and filmmaker who lives and was raised in Flateyri. The book, Sundkýrin Sæunn (‘Sæunn the Swimming Cow’), is illustrated by Freydís Kristjánsdóttir.

Eyþór was only two years old when Sæunn made her great escape, but the story of this “Fjord Hero” quickly became the stuff of local lore and is very dear to him, not least because there’s a twist—Sæunn was pregnant when she swam across the fjord, which Eyþór thinks likely contributed to her tenacity. To make the whole adventure even more narratively perfect, Sæunn gave birth to her calf on Sjómannadagur, the Fishermen’s Day holiday. Her calf was given an equally seaworthy name: Hafdís, or ‘Sea nymph.’

Stories of Sæunn’s exploits made her famous not only in Iceland, but also travelled as far as India. The couple who adopted Sæunn after her escape received letters from all over the world, thanking them for their kindness and sometimes including donations. (Conversely, the farmers in Flateyri were known to have received some threatening letters for having attempted to slaughter the cow.)

Sæunn ended her life on the same beach that she came ashore on the day of her amazing swim. “She was old and very ill, so the farmer led her to the seashore. She was buried with a view of the fjord and the sea that had saved her,” explained Eyþór.

Sundkýrin Sæunn is available in bookstores around Iceland and is perhaps preamble to even grander horizons. Eyþór says he hopes to one day make a film about Sæunn, so her fame will once again go global.

Suspect Charged in Fatal House Fire

fire Vesturgata Bræðraborgarstígur

Police have charged the man who has been held in connection with a house fire this June that left three people dead and two in critical condition, mbl.is reports. The suspect, who is in his sixties, has been in custody since the day of the fire.

Friday marked twelve weeks that the man has been in custody—the maximum amount of time a person can be held without being charged. It has been confirmed that the man will remain in custody for another four weeks. The suspect was charged with manslaughter under Article 211 of the general penal code and arson under Article 164. Per the terms of Article 211, punishment for manslaughter calls for anywhere from five years’ imprisonment (the minimum allowable sentence) to life. Article 164 dictates that the punishment for arson be no less than six months’ imprisonment.

See Also: Fire Sparks Conversation About Working Conditions Facing Foreigners

The house that burned down was located at Bræðraborgarstígur 1 in the westside neighbourhood of Vesturbær and was on a list of illegal residential housing published by the fire brigade in 2017. The building was reported on as far back as 2015 in Stundin newspaper regarding sub-standard housing for foreign workers and was covered two years later by the TV programme Kveikur, which did an investigation of illegal residence in the house.

All three people who died in the fire were Polish citizens. The families of the victims have begun legal proceedings of their own and will be suing both the man in custody as well as the owner of the house.