COVID-19 continues to spread through the community, but a closer look at the data presents a silver lining to the latest wave. While far more Icelanders diagnosed with the coronavirus have died in recent months, the mortality rate is actually lower than in prior waves.
During earlier waves of the pandemic, roughly 0.5 percent of those diagnosed with COVID-19 succumbed to the virus. However, since the Delta variant arrived in the country in the summer of 2021 the mortality rate dropped to 0.03 or 0.04 percent, a 10 or 15 percent decrease, RÚV reports.
Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason attributes the lower mortality rate to high uptake of vaccinations in the country.
Over the course of the pandemic, 93 deaths have been associated with COVID-19 infection, 56 of which have occurred this year.
The country appears to have reached the peak of the latest wave, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, though an average of 1,500 new cases are being diagnosed daily through PCR and rapid testing.
Hospitals examining their alert levels
Landspítali’s Epidemic Committee is looking at how the hospital can scale back its alert level in a safe manner after weeks of operating at an emergency alert level, RÚV reports.
There are 72 patients currently in hospital with COVID-19, 64 of whom are in isolation and four are on respirators. Six children are currently being hospitalised for COVID-19.
A lot of illness going around
Despite COVID-19 cases trending in the right direction, there is a lot of illness circulating in the community, Óskar Reykdalsson, director of the capital area health care centres, told RÚV.
In addition to the coronavirus, influenza is spreading rapidly. Thanks to health measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, less flu had been spreading in Iceland over the past two years.
Óskar said that it is typical that the flu is more widespread after years of lower instances. Health facilities ordered more influenza vaccine this year in anticipation of higher numbers, but demand hasn’t met supply.
“I was actually quite surprised that it was not just all used up and finished,” Óskar told Channel 2 radio. “95,000 doses were ordered for the country and 67,000 doses have been used.”
Asked whether people would be able to distinguish between having COVID-19 or influenza, Óskar said that there were differences between the pace of the diseases. With influenza, people suddenly get a high fever and headache and then the cold creeps in. With COVID-19, on the other hand, symptoms start rather mildly but then the disease grows.