April Fool’s: Reports of “Troika” Statue Greatly Exaggerated

Statue

Mark Twain said it best.

“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”

In celebration of our enduring idiocy, Icelandic media outlets have reported on – and, in some cases, authored – not a few April Fool’s day pranks.

Here are the highlights.

Statue of “the troika” to be unveiled

At 08:00 AM this morning, the media outlet Vísir published an article under the headline, “Live Broadcast: Unveiling of ‘the Troika’ Statue.”

Beginning at 10:00 AM this morning – when the unveiling was set to commence, according to the article – the outlet featured a live feed of a black cloth draped over a presumed statue on the premises of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management in Reykjavík.

But who knows what that black cloth was concealing.

The live feed was eventually replaced with a video message from Víðir Reynisson, Director of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, who earnestly thanked citizens for their collaboration during the time of the pandemic.

Enter the horses …

In what would have been excellent news,  Mbl.is reported this morning that Aha.is was announcing “a revolution” in the field of fast-food delivery.

The article explained that after the company’s drone-delivery service was named “initiative of the year” in 2021 by Business Iceland (SA), Aha.is had decided to add to its fleet of environmentally-friendly conveyances.

Horses.

“We have added five thoroughbreds, and we aim to add more horses to our fleet as the summer draws near,” Helgi Már Þórðarson, one of the company’s owners, stated in the interview.

We’re not sure that he was serious.

Zuckerberg arrives in Iceland

Hoping to capitalise on the success of a recent Zuckerberg joke (he was lampooned by Inspired by Iceland not long ago), the Icelandic ad agency Sahara shared a FB post this morning announcing that Zuck (Zucc) had arrived in Iceland.

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has arrived to the country and will be hosting an open meeting at the offices of Sahara between 12:00 – 13:00 today. Everyone’s welcome, space allowing.”

It is uncertain whether anyone attended.

Múlaþing municipality apologises

While most April Fool’s Day pranks were well received, the employees of the offices of the Múlaþing municipality took to Facebook to post an apology.

Earlier today, they had announced that the municipality would soon “break ground” on the Garðarsvöllur sports ground (ideas have been floated regarding the construction of an apartment building on the lot).

“The undersigned composed the prank in good faith, and we are sorry if we hurt/offended residents,” the employees wrote.

“That was not our intention.”

That’s it. That’s the joke.

On a lighter note, attorney Konráð Jónsson posted an image of his bathtub on Facebook under the heading:

“Our firstborn (8 years old) poured all of our toiletries in the bathtub. That’s it. That’s the joke.”

Lastly, 7,453 businesses posted online ads of their special first-of-April discount under the shockingly original headline, “This is not an April Fool’s Day prank!”

Long Waiting Lists for Most Elective Surgical Procedures

According to a newly-published report by the Directorate of Health, waiting lists for most elective surgical procedures are too long. Individuals electing for knee-replacement surgery, for example, must wait for 12 months on average. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on waiting lists.

Supervising healthcare in Iceland

Last month, the Directorate of Health published a report on the state of waiting lists at the National University Hospital. The report is based on data from the beginning of the year.

As noted in the introduction, the Directorate of Health is legally obligated to supervise the healthcare system in Iceland. In its fulfillment of this role, the Directorate calls for data on elective-surgery waiting lists at the National University Hospital of Iceland twice a year.

The Directorate of Health’s guidelines state that 80% of elective surgical operations should be scheduled within 90 days, RÚV reported. According to the report, however, this aim is met in only 4 out of the 18 types of surgical procedures. (The wait is acceptable with regards to cardiac valve replacements, coronary angioplasties, and prostate operations).

The majority of individuals on waiting lists, or around 80%, have waited too long for ablations (a procedure to treat atrial fibrillation), pupilloplasty, acid-reflux surgery, bariatric surgery, and knee-replacement surgery. The wait lists for most surgical categories has lengthened or stayed the same since the publication of the previous report.

A near twelve-month wait for knee-replacement surgery

Over 1,700 people are waiting for knee or hip replacement surgery, with the average wait for knee-replacement surgery at the National University Hospital being 49 weeks. The wait for pupilloplasty is also long, with approximately half of those 2,600 individuals who underwent the operation last year having waited for seven months.

As noted in the report, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on waiting lists. Special measures must be taken to increase the number of operations once the effects of the pandemic subside.

“Previous reports have indicated that a shortage of staff and hospital beds has had a negative impact on waiting lists at the National University Hospital. There are indications that this is still the case.”

As reported by Iceland Review last week, even with a new hospital to open in Reykjavík in 2026, the healthcare system is expected to be significantly short of hospital beds in 2040, i.e. if drastic measures aren’t taken.

Agreement on Long-Awaited New Research Vessel Signed

Research Vessel

The Marine & Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) will receive a new research vessel in 2024. Yesterday, the institute’s director signed an agreement with government ministers and the Spanish contractor Astilleros Armón.

Plans approved in June 2018

In June 2018, on the centenary of Iceland’s sovereignty, Parliament approved a bill granting the Minister of Fisheries the authority to initiate preparations for the construction of a new research vessel for the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI). The new vessel would replace Bjarni Sæmundsson HF-030, which was constructed in 1970. The MFRI would continue to use Árni Friðriksson, a much younger vessel, built in 2000.

Yesterday, Þorsteinn Sigurðsson, the Director of the MFRI, signed an agreement with Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson; Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir; and an unnamed representative from the Spanish shipbuilding company Astilleros Armón for the construction of the new research vessel.

“This is a milestone in the history of marine research in Iceland,” Þorsteinn stated in an interview with Mbl.is yesterday. According to the director, discussions regarding the construction of a new research vessel began around the turn of the century. At the time, a decision was made to refit Bjarni Sæmundsson, with the repairs expected to last until 2012.

Yesterday, the MFRI signed an agreement for the long-awaited new vessel. Construction is expected to take 30 months. If all goes according to plan, the vessel will arrive in Iceland in the fall of 2024.

ISK 4.8 billion tender

As noted by Mbl.is, an emphasis will be placed on fuel efficiency and environmentally friendliness in the construction of the new vessel. It will be 70 metres long and 12 metres wide. Skipasýn has spent the past three years designing the ship. It also oversaw the tendering process. The ship will be built by Astilleros Armón, which made the lowest offer of three Spanish yards that tendered for the build, or ISK 4.8 billion ($37 million / €33.5 million).