COVID-19 in Iceland: Domestic Cases Drop as Hospitalisations Rise Skip to content

COVID-19 in Iceland: Domestic Cases Drop as Hospitalisations Rise

By Yelena

Photo: Landspítali/TH Thorkelsson.

Domestic COVID-19 case numbers appear to be dropping in Iceland, though strain on the healthcare system continues to increase, particularly in North Iceland. Those were the main messages from a pandemic briefing held by Icelandic authorities in Reykjavík this morning. Tighter restrictions took effect in Iceland on Saturday, halving the national assembly limit to 10 and instituting wider mandatory mask usage.

Iceland reported 26 new domestic cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 6 from border testing. Active case numbers are at 905 and have been dropping for several days. The number of people hospitalised due to COVID-19 is, however, at a record high of 72, with 3 of those in intensive care. Patients have also been hospitalised in Akureyri, North Iceland, though none of the cases there are currently serious.

Growth in Cases in North Iceland

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason stated that while community-spread infections appear to be trending downwards there are fewer tests conducted during the weekend. Numbers over the next few days will show whether the trend will continue. There continue to be small group outbreaks, particularly in North Iceland. Of yesterday’s new domestic cases, 25% have a legal residence outside the capital area. No new strains of the virus have been detected and for now Iceland is not seeing exponential growth in case numbers, in contrast to many nearby countries.

Update to Border Regulations

Current border regulations, which allow travellers the option between double-testing and five day quarantine or 14-day quarantine without testing, are in effect until December 1. Þórólfur stated that he will be submitting his recommendations for continued border regulations to the Health Ministry soon. He noted that current regulations have prevented a large number of active cases from spreading into the community and expressed his support of implementing mandatory testing for all travellers entering the country.

Outbreak Response Team Established

According to National University Hospital Director Páll Matthíasson, the group outbreak that began at the hospital’s Landakot location nearly two weeks ago seems to have been contained. Director of Health Alma Möller announced that an outbreak response team had been put together over the weekend that can react quickly in the case of such outbreaks at healthcare institutions. The team is able to respond to such events across the country.

Stores and Schools

The tightened regulations that took effect on Saturday made mask use mandatory in stores across the country. Chief Superintendent Víðir Reynisson expressed bewilderment that there had been cases of customers refusing to wear masks in stores and even threatening employees who were often young people simply trying to direct customers. “It’s such a load of nonsense that I can’t believe we are dealing with it,” he stated.

Víðir said authorities had received hundreds of requests from businesses asking for exemptions from the tightened COVID-19 regulations. He urged the public and companies to stop requesting exemptions and follow the rules for the next two weeks.

Regarding criticism of tightened regulations that take effect in schools tomorrow, Þórólfur stated the regulations, which give more freedom to younger students, aimed to strike a compromise between infection prevention measures and keeping schools operating as normally as possible.

Iceland Review live-tweets authorities’ COVID-19 briefings on Mondays and Thursdays at 11.00am UTC.

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