There are currently 320 guests at Reykjavík’s quarantine hotels and 145 of them are in isolation with an active COVID-19 infection, RÚV reports. The remaining guests have either been exposed to an infected individual or are completing travel quarantine. A third quarantine facility has been opened in Reykjavík and the director of the facilities says staff are sorely needed.
Not all residents or visitors in Iceland have access to adequate facilities to quarantine or isolate in the case of COVID-19 infection or exposure. The Icelandic authorities and the Icelandic Red Cross provides such housing to those who need it at hotels in Reykjavík and elsewhere in Iceland. The third Reykjavík quarantine facility was opened yesterday and 15 guests are currently staying there, though Director of the facilities Gylfi Þór Þorsteinsson says he expects the number to increase in the coming days.
Most guests have mild symptoms
Currently, most of the guests at the facilities have mild symptoms. “Fortunately there are not a lot of symptoms now but there are always some among some of our guests,” Gylfi stated. “It seems to be the case that people start showing symptoms in the second week, maybe at the end of the first week symptoms begin to appear. Fortunately they pass quickly for most people, in maybe two or three days. But then there are always some who need more monitoring in hospital and unfortunately, at least two guests have had to be hospitalised for a short period.”
Just seven staff members were attending to 130 guests at the facilities, Gylfi stated in an interview yesterday. “We’re having a lot of trouble with staffing. We need staff and are advertising for it on Alfreð among other places. It is quite clear that this will only get worse in the coming days and not much else we can do than just attend to those who are staying with us as well as possible.”
Delta variant spreads despite vaccination
Icelandic authorities lifted all domestic pandemic restrictions on June 26, after a majority of the population had been vaccinated against COVID-19. Case numbers began rising a few weeks later, however, leading the government to reimpose a gathering ban and social distancing regulations. The country now reports 612 active cases of COVID-19, most among vaccinated individuals. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist has stated that vaccinations are not proving as effective at stopping transmission of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 as experts had hoped. So far few have been hospitalised due to COVID-19 infection in this wave so there is evidence that vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness. However, as the current wave is still on the upswing, hospitalisations could still increase.
Hospital staff in quarantine and isolation
While there are just two individuals in hospital now due to COVID-19, the current spike in infection has caused some strain on the healthcare system in a different way. Staff of the National University Hospital as well as other healthcare centres have been placed in isolation and quarantine, creating staff shortages during the peak summer vacation season. Hospital administration has confirmed that so far staff members’ infections can all be traced to the community and there has been no spread of infection within the hospital.