Alert Phase Revoked, Three Weeks after Eruption Ceases

iceland eruption 2022

The National Police Commissioner, in consultation with the Suðurnes Police, has decided to revoke the Alert Phase that has been in effect due to the volcanic eruption in the Reykjanes peninsula. Three weeks have elapsed since any volcanic activity was detected in the area.

Uncertainty Phase declared

On July 30, an Uncertainty Phase was declared on Reykjanes after a swarm of earthquakes rocked the peninsula. Four days later, on August 3, a volcanic eruption began, as magma began spewing out of several-hundred-metre-long fissures in a lava field near Fagradalsfjall, which had been created by last year’s eruption in the same location. An Emergency Phase was subsequently declared, which was lowered to an Alert Phase in light of the relative smallness of the eruption.

The eruption passed through several phases before all activity ceased on Saturday, August 20. Yesterday, the National Police Commissioner, in consultation with the Suðurnes Police, decided to revoke the Alert and Uncertainty Phases that had been in effect in the area, RÚV reports. Authorities will continue to monitor the area closely, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has announced.

“We can expect intrusion activity and earthquakes in Reykjanes over the coming weeks. Residents are encouraged to secure furniture and other household items to prevent injury and/or damages to their homes,” a press release from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management reads.

The press release also states that rangers will be positioned at the eruption site to monitor foot traffic. The presence of police and rescue workers will be gradually diminished in the area, although they will be dispatched if needed. Lastly, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management underscores the hazard of venturing onto the lava, noting that craters and hot lava are protected by nature-preservation laws.



Situation at National Hospital Improves

Emergency room

The National and University Hospital is lowering its emergency level from ‘Alert Phase,’ to ‘Uncertainty Phase,’ which is the lowest preparedness level. This welcome news comes via a press release issued by the hospital on Wednesday.

The downgrade in emergency level comes as hospitalizations due to COVID-19 decrease. As of Wednesday afternoon, seven people, with an average age of 53, were hospitalized due to COVID-19, only one of whom was in intensive care. None of the patients were on a respirator. With fewer COVID patients to care for, the hospital has also been able to reopen Ward A7, which usually serves as the Infectious Diseases ward. A7 had been converted to a COVID ward when there were more patients than could be accommodated in the main COVID ward.

At the time of writing, there were 930 individuals in quarantine and 544 in isolation.

Improved situation comes in the wake of a difficult August

Only weeks ago, in mid-August, Intensive Care Units at the National Hospital were “at the breaking point.” Staff was stretched and exhausted and there was a real risk that if a non-COVID emergency situation occurred, the hospital would not have the resources to respond to it. Adding to the strain was the sudden influx of tourists: 15% of patients monitored by the COVID-19 ward in mid-August were foreign tourists, with 25-40% of patients in the ICU belonging to this group.

Most infections among children aged 6 – 12

On Wednesday, RÚV also reported that the highest number of COVID-19 infections are among children aged 6-12. At the time of writing, 139 children in this age group were infected. Vaccinations are currently available to children 12 and older.

First Confirmed COVID-19 Case in Iceland

The Directorate of Health has confirmed the first coronavirus case in Iceland, Vísir reports. An Icelandic male in his forties has been quarantined at the University Hospital after having tested positive for COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) at just past 1 pm today.

Recently returned from North Italy

According to a bulletin from the Directorate of Health, the man is not in serious condition but displays typical symptoms of the COVID-19 disease: fever, cough, and muscle pain. The man had recently returned from North Italy. The University Hospital has begun tracing the infection’s transmission route in order to determine whether other individuals may have been exposed to the virus.

Alert phase

In light of the diagnosis, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police in consultation with Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist will activate the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management’s alert phase. As noted by the Directorate of Health, the alert phase is initiated as there has been no ebb in the coronavirus outbreak abroad, especially in Europe, and in light of the first confirmed case in Iceland.

A press conference will be held at 4 pm today, which readers can view here.