Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, Director of Health Alma Möller, and Director of Civil Protection Víðir Reynisson were invested with the Order of the Falcon by Iceland’s President yesterday. The order is a recognition of the trio’s work preventing the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic in Iceland. The three have become known as þríeykið (the trifecta) among the Icelandic public, and have been highly praised for their leadership of Iceland’s successful response to the novel coronavirus. Iceland currently has 5 active cases of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Border Screening Going Well
The trifecta held a briefing in Reykjavík today to review Iceland’s newly-started initiative of screening travellers entering the country for COVID-19. Both Icelandic residents and foreigners can opt for a COVID-19 test upon arrival to Iceland or to undergo a 14-day quarantine. A total of 2,332 travellers were tested at the border between Monday and Wednesday, five of whom tested positive (not all five infections were active).
In the briefing, Þórólfur stated that these numbers were more or less what authorities had expected. He added that although screening had gone well overall, there had been a few hiccups, mostly in communicating test results to travellers. Authorities are working on shortening the wait time for results so that all those arriving through Keflavík Airport have their results within 12 hours and those arriving at other entry points within 24 hours.
Alma expressed her concern regarding an approaching nurses’ strike, as nurses are employed both in border testing and contact tracing. She stated that if the strike does occur, it is clear that authorities would need to apply for an exception in order to continue screening.
Thanked the Teams Behind Them
When asked how they felt about being invested with the Order of the Falcon, Víðir, Þórólfur, and Alma all stated they had accepted the award on behalf of the teams that have been working hard to contain the spread of the coronavirus, who are not visible to the public but have been crucial in the fight against COVID-19 in Iceland.