Iceland’s Prime Minister Vaccinated Today

bólusetning mass vaccination Laugardalshöll

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir confirmed with Morgunblaðið that she will receive her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine today. Like all Icelandic residents who have been offered the jab, Katrín received her invitation through the automated SMS messaging system used by Icelandic health authorities. Almost 40% of the population of 368,000 have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine while 15.1% are fully vaccinated.

Notable government officials, as well as some who have spearheaded Iceland’s largely successful efforts to contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus, have been showing up to get the jab in recent weeks. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason and Director of Health Alma Möller were both vaccinated recently – both received a round of applause when they arrived at the mass vaccination centre in Reykjavík’s Laugardalshöll.

Iceland’s President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson showed up for his vaccination last week wearing a t-shirt featuring the famous “Viking clap” popularised by Iceland’s football team at the 2016 UEFA Euro Championships. The President tweeted his admiration for the staff involved, adding “We’re getting there. Hú!” Iceland’s Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir and Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson have both been called in along with their age groups for vaccination.

Icelandic authorities are currently vaccinating the seventh and eighth of ten priority groups. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has stated that the remaining groups will be called in randomly (and not from oldest to youngest) in line with findings from a deCODE genetics study that the method would achieve herd immunity faster. Icelandic authorities have stated they are on track to vaccinate 75% of the population by the end of July.

Reykjanes Eruption: Lava Flow Increases By 70%

Aerial view of lava flowing from the Geldingadalur crater and the audience gathered to admire it

There are no signs the ongoing eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula will stop soon, according to experts. Lava flow at the site has increased by around 70% according to the latest data from the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences. Fountaining lava is spewing molten rock up to one kilometre from the active crater, where some is starting brush fires. Authorities are working to make the site more accessible to visitors.

Eruption Now Twice as Powerful

According to data gathered on May 10, the lava flow at the Geldingadalir eruption increased significantly last week, from 8 cubic metres per second to 13. “Increased flow has gone hand in hand with rising lava fountains and a powerful advance of lava into Meradalir valley,” a notice from the Institute states. “The eruption is now twice as powerful as it has been for most of the active period.” The volume of the lava expelled by the eruption, which has so far lasted for nearly eight weeks, has now reached over 30 million cubic metres and covers an area of nearly 1.8 km2. The Geldingadalir eruption is exceptional in that the vast majority of eruptions decrease in strength after they begin. According to the Institute notice, “there is no way to predict how long the eruption will last of whether lava flows will continue to increase.”

The video below was taken on May 5, 2021.

Flying Lava Sparks Brush Fires

The eruption site was closed to visitors yesterday: lava rocks expelled by the active crater were landing as far as one kilometre away and sparking brush fires around the eruption site. Smoke from the fires was wafting over the hiking path to the site, causing danger to potential visitors. Yet the biggest danger at the site seems to be the hiking path itself, which has caused two to three broken ankles per day according to Jón Haukur Steingrímsson, a geotechnical engineer at Efla, who is working on improvements to the eruption site.

Modifications Shorten and Improve Hiking Path

“There are a lot of people there who are just relatively inexperienced hikers, who are going there. As we enter the summer and we start getting tourists it’s only going to increase more,” Jón Haukur told Vísir. Last week the first slope on the path was modified to make it less steep. “It made a big difference right away how everything just went a lot more smoothly there.” Other modifications are forthcoming that should make the trail easier for hikers. A new parking lot, closer than the current temporary lots at the site, will also shorten the hike by 1.2-1.3 kilometres in each direction.

Daði Rises on Eurovision Charts After First Rotterdam Rehearsal

Eurovision Söngvakeppnin 2020 Daði Freyr Dimma

Iceland’s representatives at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, Daði og gagnamagnið, rose two spots in bookies’ charts after their first rehearsal in the Netherlands, RÚV reports. Daði and gagnamagnið’s song 10 Years was in sixth place before the group took the stage at Rotterdam’s Ahoy Convention Centre but had risen to fourth only a few hours later. Daði Freyr and his band won fans across the world in 2020 with their song Think About Things, Iceland’s submission to the 2020 Eurovision contest, which was eventually cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the rehearsal, the band premiered new costumes, graphics, and instruments – the latter designed by band member Árný Fjóla (also Daði’s wife and the subject of the song), and constructed by Árný, Daði, and Daði’s father. The band’s graphics reference previous Eurovision performances, including that of Icelander Jóhanna Guðrún, who represented the country at the 2009 contest, and Ukrainian artist Ruslana’s 2004 contest-winning song Wild Dances.

Read More: Daði’s Eurovision is 20/20

The group’s next rehearsal takes place this Thursday and their official performance will be next Thursday, May 20 in the Eurovision semi-finals in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.