Icelandic authorities have activated a contingency plan for infectious diseases due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. The Chief Epidemiologist for the Directorate of Health along with the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management are already working according to the plan, following on-hand contingency plans. A plan for disease prevention at international airports has also been activated specifically for Keflavík International Airport. The Icelandic Tourist Board will assist with ensuring that information about the virus reaches travellers around the country.
The operations at Keflavík airport are focused on detecting diseased individuals as well as those possibly infected. Passengers arriving in Iceland via Keflavík airport will be asked to report whether they have signs of respiratory disease. Passengers who have been in Wuhan, China in the past fourteen days, or have been in contact with individuals who have contracted the disease or are suspected of it are also asked to report. If arriving passengers fulfill any of these three requirements, a medical will take place at the airport. The results from the medical will determine the next course of action, but the quarantine of individuals is a possibility.
The operations aim to find the diseased or possibly infected, to stop the spread of the disease in Iceland as soon as possible. Past experiences show it to be too costly and ineffective to measure every passenger using a thermometer, as well as placing a questionnaire.
Health institutions activated
All health institutions in Iceland have been alerted about the new virus. They have been encouraged to update their contingency plans and look into other ways to prepare, such as creating quarantine facilities. Instructions for the public have been issued by the Directorate of Health on their website. The instructions specifically cover how individuals should act if suspicion of infection arises.
The coronavirus is believed to have originated in a food market in Wuhan, China. The infection has now been confirmed in about 600 people, but the number of infected persons is probably significantly higher. Human to human transmission has been confirmed but does not yet appear to be common. No individual has yet been diagnosed in Europe, but the virus has been detected in a person in the United States that travelled from Wuhan city. There have been unconfirmed reports of infection in Scotland and Finland.
The current contingency plan that has been activated in Iceland is largely based on the 2002 outbreak of SARS
Further information on the Directorate of Health website (in English). Updates on the situation will be posted there, along with further instructions.