Iceland’s official COVID-19 data may no longer reflect the actual spread of cases since relaxed COVID-19 regulations took effect, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason stated at a briefing in Reykjavík this morning. He encouraged the public to get PCR tests if they are symptomatic, but opt for rapid testing otherwise, in order to not strain the country’s testing capacity. Both the National Hospital and the Civil Protection and Emergency Management Department have lowered their emergency phase to an uncertainty phase, and Þórólfur was optimistic that better times were ahead in the fight against COVID.
A total of 70,721 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Iceland since the pandemic began, or around 19% of the population. A recent study suggests that the number of actual infections could be higher than that reflected in official data. While the current wave of infection, Iceland’s largest, was initially straining workplaces and the National University Hospital, the situation has somewhat improved in recent days. Relaxed quarantine regulations are one factor that has made an impact.
Iceland is set to lift all domestic COVID-19 restrictions, including quarantine and isolation, by mid-March. The Chief Epidemiologist stated that changes could be made to border regulations before March 1, but are not his primary concern at the moment. Health Minister Willum Þór Þórsson has expressed his wishes to lift domestic restrictions earlier than scheduled, but Þórólfur stated he was not sure whether his recommendations for the next stage of lifting would be submitted before the end of the week.