Last Wednesday, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason gave his recommendation on updates to infection prevention regulations to the Minister of Health. His recommendations suggested easing restrictions moderately in some ways. In light of the recent increase of infections out of quarantine, Þórólfur has now rescinded his recommendation and asks the Minister to wait for a new memo, RÚV reports. He urges people to steer clear of all gatherings. The infections in the past few days are traced to parties and gatherings of friends and families.
Þórólfur states that the pandemic is currently growing. “We’ve seen an increase in numbers every day for a few days, especially with people outside quarantine. If this continues, there are indications of exponential growth and then, the situation can quickly get worse.” For 12 consecutive days, infections out of quarantine were five or fewer. For the past two days, however, there’s been an increase with eight and eleven cases out of quarantine, respectively. The numbers are still relatively low compared to the high points of the last wave, but if the development continues, another wave is on the horizon, right on the heels of the last one.
The current infection prevention restrictions are in place until December 2. Þórólfur turned in his recommendations for what should happen next last Wednesday. Asked if he would need to reconsider them, he answered in the affirmative. “There’s a revision clause in every memo I send the Minister because I have to send them a long time before they are to take effect. When I sent the recommendations, things looked a lot better. My disclaimer was that I might have to reconsider my recommendations if things were to change for the worse. I think that has now happened and I have spoken to the minister about that,” Þórólfur said. He will hold off on making his final recommendations until more is known about the current development.
Þórólfur was asked if this meant easing restrictions was out of the question, but he declined to comment. “I’ve said before that we need to be very careful when easing restrictions, and that’s what I said when things were looking very positive. We need to be even more careful when we see things going the other way.” Þórólfur was also wary of giving predictions for the coming weeks, stating: “We should be looking at the next few days, not the next few weeks. But I think this should be a motivation for everyone. What we’re seeing now is the effect of what happened a week ago, because it takes about a week before the numbers reflect the changes. This is the result of gatherings, not necessarily huge parties. Any gatherings, within families or outside them, are a clear risk factor. This is a time when people get together, especially families. We want to ask people to be very careful and stay away from such gatherings so we won’t be hit hard in the coming weeks.