“Cautiously optimistic” was how Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason described his perspective on the ongoing third wave of COVID-19 infections at a briefing in Reykjavík today. Authorities know where the wave originated, says Þórólfur, the contact tracing team has a good overview on cases, and has also been successful in locating minor outbreaks. Þórólfur added, however, that his optimism has proved unwarranted in the past and that individual preventative measures such as handwashing and social distancing remain key to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Iceland.
Iceland reported 30 new domestic cases of COVID-19 yesterday, and the number has been dropping since reaching a high of 75 two days ago. More than half of case in recent days can be traced to bars and clubs in Reykjavík, which have been ordered to remain closed until September 27. The total number of active cases currently sits at 242.
Emphasis on Employer Responsibility
At today’s briefing, authorities emphasised employers’ responsibility in minimising the risk of virus spread in the workplace. This should be done by separating employees into smaller groups at larger workplaces, as well as ensuring communal areas are regularly cleaned and sterilised. Furthermore, employers were encouraged to allow staff to work from home as much as possible.
Mask Use Encouraged, Not Mandatory
In workplaces where one-metre distancing is not possible, mask use is encouraged. The same applies to secondary schools and universities. While mask use in these circumstances is not required by law, Þórólfur emphasised that schools should set regulations according to their individual circumstances, and those should be respected. He added that authorities are not recommending general mask use “out on the streets,” rather only in situations where masks have been proven effective in reducing and preventing transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Iceland Review live tweets Icelandic authorities’ COVID-19 briefings.