Icelanders can tentatively look forward to Christmas with fewer restrictions if border testing measures are maintained, stated Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason in a COVID-19 briefing this morning. Authorities stated that it was too early to celebrate over dropping daily case numbers, and the coming days will determine whether harsher restrictions that took effect last week have been effective in containing Iceland’s third wave of COVID-19 infection.
Iceland reported 50 new domestic COVID-19 cases yesterday, 66% of which were in quarantine at the time of diagnosis. Active COVID-19 infections in the country number 1,022, close to the record of 1,096 reached on April 5. There are currently 23 COVID-19 patients in hospital and 2 on ventilators. At the briefing, Director of Health Alma Möller stated that the National University Hospital was managing the load well for the time being, but could expect increased strain in the coming weeks as COVID-19 symptoms worsen among those newly diagnosed.
Antibody Parties are Not a Good Idea
When questioned about a young man who proposed throwing a party for all Icelanders who had antibodies to the virus, the Chief Epidemiologist stated that he did not recommend such events. “I think it would maybe provoke people to try to get the virus so they could then go party and that could turn out badly.” Alma added: “Also people [with antibodies] can still have the virus on their hands and transmit it between people, though they themselves are immune. So we encourage everyone who has had COVID-19 to exercise caution regarding preventative measures.”
Chief Superintendent Víðir Reynisson also added that the regulations in place apply equally to everyone, regardless of whether they’ve had the virus or not. “We are in a country where the same laws apply to everyone and the same rules to everyone, so there will be no change regarding how many people can congregate based on whether they have antibodies or not.”
Christmas Celebrations Tied to Border Testing
Reporters asked the panel whether Icelandic residents could expect regulations to be relaxed by Christmastime. Þórólfur stated that he hoped the current measures would be successful in containing the virus, but relaxing restrictions would also depend on maintaining current border testing measures. Since Iceland implemented double testing and five-day quarantine at the border in August, Þórólfur says, no new strains of the virus have been detected in the country. Those measures will be in place until at least December 1.
Iceland Review live-tweets Icelandic authorities’ COVID-19 briefings. The next briefing is scheduled for Thursday, October 15.