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Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir
Photo: Golli.

Gathering Ban Extended

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir has approved an extension to the gathering ban and restrictions on school operations until May 4. The decision was made following a proposal put forth by Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason.

The gathering ban first went into effect on March 16 and was initially supposed to end on April 13. “Although controlling the spread of infection has gone well, there are concerns about how quickly the number of severely ill patients in need intensive care has increased,” read the announcement on the Ministry of Health’s website. “It’s crucial that we continue to stand together as one, follow the instructions of our best professionals, and thus prevent the burden on the health care system from crossing the bearable limit.”

As Þórólfur stated in his memo to the Minister of Health, the many different actions already taken, including the gathering ban, have resulted in restricted growth of COVID-19 infections. Until now, the infection increase has been in accordance with the most optimistic forecasts. However, the number of seriously ill patients has risen quickly, resulting in strain on the National Hospital’s ICU. It is clear that a further increase in infection, with an added number of seriously ill patients, could create issues within the healthcare system and make it harder for it to fulfil its essential purpose.

When deemed safe to do so, these restrictions will be lifted in stages, concludes the announcement. The Ministry of Health hopes to announce a plan for rolling back restrictions by the end of April.

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