COVID-19 in Iceland: Domestic Outbreak Not Yet Contained, Authorities Say Skip to content

COVID-19 in Iceland: Domestic Outbreak Not Yet Contained, Authorities Say

By Yelena

Víðir and Þórólfur COVID-19
Photo: Almannavarnir / Facebook.

Iceland reported zero new domestic cases of COVID-19 yesterday, despite extensive testing in connection with a small local outbreak that has emerged in recent days. Four domestic cases of the highly-contagious British variant have been confirmed in Iceland in the past week, all outside of quarantine. The variant has thus far not spread extensively in Iceland. Health authorities are continuing a campaign of extensive testing and tracing with the aim of preventing a new wave of community infection.

Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason stated that although yesterday’s testing did not reveal any new domestic cases, the outbreak has still not been fully contained. “It can take a few days for an infection to be detectable by testing and then also a slightly longer time to get symptoms. This week might have to pass concerning [the emergence of] symptoms.” Concertgoers that were exposed to one of the four cases last Friday will be tested a second time tomorrow. “The samples taken in the latter half of this week should tell us if we’ve gotten out of this or not,” Þórólfur told Vísir. A total of 193 are currently in quarantine and that number may continue to rise as contact tracing efforts continue.

All Cases Traced to a Traveller

The four cases have all been traced to an individual who returned to Iceland from abroad on February 26. While they tested negative before departure and upon arrival to Iceland, they tested positive in a follow-up test after the mandatory five-day quarantine. The traveller appears to have infected a neighbour without direct contact through use of a common stairwell in their residential building.

Before the four cases were diagnosed, Iceland had not reported a single case of COVID-19 out of quarantine for over a month. Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir stated the outbreak was a reminder of how little it takes for the virus to spread into the community.

Not Much Room for Relaxing Restrictions

Current domestic restrictions, including a gathering limit of 50, are valid until March 17. Domestic regulations have been relaxed several times since the start of the year as case numbers have remained low. Þórólfur stated it was too early to discuss his recommendations for the next stage of domestic regulations but added he doesn’t see much room for relaxing restrictions as long as the outbreak has not been contained.

 

Iceland Review will live-tweet authorities’ regular COVID-19 information briefing tomorrow, Thursday, March 11, at 11.03am UTC.

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