A woman in her eighties died from COVID-19 last night at the National University Hospital of Iceland. This is the first death from COVID-19 since the first wave of the pandemic last spring, and the eleventh death from the pandemic in total in Iceland.
The hospital released a statement this morning on the death, expressing sympathy to the patient’s family. The Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason confirmed to RÚV that the patient had been in her seventies and Már Kristjánsson, Head Physician of Infectious Diseases at the National Hospital told Vísir that the woman had not been in the ICU at the time of her death. Ten died in the first wave of the pandemic last spring but no one had died from COVID-19 in Iceland since April 20.
Þórólfur told RÚV there were indications in the past two days that the current wave of the pandemic, which started September 15, could be starting to recede. Most of the infections are occurring in the capital area, and harsher restrictions are in place in the city than in other regions. Other regions are seeing a slight increase in infections and Þórólfur has sent a memo to the Minister of Health suggesting that instead of a social distance of one metre outside the capital area, all regions of the country will be requested to keep a distance of two metres(six feet). Otherwise, he recommends continuing the current infection prevention restrictions for the next 2-3 weeks, with gyms, pools, bars, and clubs closed, a gathering ban for more than 20 people and masks wherever a distance of 2 metres is not possible.
“I think we need to ease restrictions very slowly,” Þórólfur told RÚV. “I think it will take longer to curb this wave of the pandemic than last spring and that’s why we need to do this slowly. It doesn’t take much for new infections to come up and the numbers to start rising again. So I think it will pay off to ease restrictions slowly and end in the right place, rather than do it too quickly and have to tighten restrictions again,” said Þórólfur.
26 patients are now hospitalised with COVID-19 in Iceland, four of which are in the ICU. Yesterday saw 67 new confirmed cases of domestic infections, 50 of which were in quarantine. Iceland currently has 1,206 infected people in isolation.