First Cases of Monkeypox Likely Diagnosed in Iceland

Chief Epidemiologist Iceland Þórólfur Guðnason

Two middle-aged men were diagnosed with monkeypox in Iceland yesterday on an initial test, according to a notice from the Directorate of Health. Samples will be sent abroad as soon as possible to confirm the diagnosis. There is an overwhelming probability that the diagnosis is correct. The infection can be traced to a trip to Europe and neither of the men is seriously ill.

“Monkey pox is not a highly contagious viral disease, but is transmitted mainly through close and prolonged contact such as sexual intercourse but also through droplets from the airway. Infections can also be transmitted through clothing, towels, and bedding,” the notice explains.

A person with monkeypox can be contagious for up to three weeks, with the risk of infection ending when the last blister on the skin has healed. While the person is contagious, they need to be in isolation. People exposed to the infection need to be for up to three weeks.

The Directorate of Health encourages anyone who experiences an outbreak of bumps or blisters on the skin, especially on or near the genitals to go into isolation and contact the National Hospital’s Dermatology and Sexual Infection Ward, the Infectious Diseases Ward, or their local health clinic for further advice on diagnosis and treatment. The Directorate of health encourages people to avoid close contact with strangers, including sex, especially during their travels abroad.

“The main way to prevent the widespread spread of monkey pox in Iceland is to avoid the transmission routes/risks that can lead to infection and to seek diagnosis as early in the disease’s development as possible.”

The Ministry of Health, in consultation with the Icelandic Medicines Agency, is working to obtain antiviral drugs and vaccines that could benefit selected individuals against the infection.

Nine COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Iceland

COVID-19 press conference Iceland

Iceland confirmed six additional cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s total up to nine. Eight of the individuals had travelled to Italy, while one had recently travelled to Austria. So far there are no cases of individuals contracting the infection in Iceland. Director of Health Alma Möller has asked healthcare workers to avoid travelling abroad in order to reduce potential strain on the healthcare system.

Prepare for healthcare workers’ quarantine

Around 300 Icelandic residents are currently under quarantine in the country, including six healthcare workers employed at the National University Hospital. All six returned to Iceland on Saturday via Munich, Germany, on the same flight as an Icelandic woman who later tested positive for the COVID-19. Measures are being taken to reduce strain on the hospital, such as transferring patients who have completed treatment there to two nursing homes. In a press conference yesterday, the Director of Health asked healthcare workers to avoid travelling abroad in order to reduce the likelihood they would have to be quarantined. The Directorate has also published guidance for frontline service staff in EnglishPolish, and Spanish.

City authorities and other organisations react

Reykjavík City Council decided yesterday to allocate additional funding toward preventing the spread of COVID-19, including toward additional cleaning. The Reform Party and Eve Online have postponed and cancelled upcoming conventions due to the uncertainty surrounding the virus. Icelandic authorities assert there is no reason to discourage public gatherings in general at this time, though the situation is being reassessed constantly.

Directorate of Health provides information

The Directorate of Health has published a health alert notice for travellers in Icelandic, English, and Chinese. Residents of Iceland returning home from high-risk areas are asked to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days and monitor their health.

For the most up to date information on COVID-19 in Iceland, readers are encouraged to visit the Directorate of Health website.

COVID-19: Information for Travellers to Iceland

Keflavík airport Icelandair

The Directorate of Health has published a health alert notice for travellers regarding COVID-19 in Icelandic, English, and Chinese. Hotels, guesthouses and other accommodations, as well as tour operators and information centres, are encouraged to print out the information and have it visible in their reception. Three cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Iceland, all Icelanders who had recently returned from ski trips in Northern Italy.

The Directorate has also published guidance for frontline service staff in EnglishPolish, and Spanish.

China, Italy, South Korea and Iran defined as high-risk areas

Icelandic authorities have defined China, Italy (as of Saturday, February 29), South Korea, and Iran as areas with a high risk of infection and have advised against travelling to those countries. Individuals who have been in those countries in the past few days and are in Iceland are advised to stay at home for 14 days as a precaution. Foreign travellers are not being directed to stay in quarantine at this time as they are considered less likely to spread the infection to the general population.

Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tenerife have been defined as areas with a low risk of infection. Individuals that are in these areas or have been in these areas for the past few days are advised to pay close attention to personal hygiene. That involves frequent hand washing, using a paper towel/cloth when sneezing/coughing, and using hand sanitizers. Hand washing, avoiding touching of eyes, nose, and mouth, and avoiding handshaking are key factors in reducing the risk of infection.

Individuals located in Iceland are asked to report symptoms (cough, fever, and muscle aches) that arise 14 days after visiting the abovementioned areas to 1700 (+354 544-4113 for foreign numbers) and review travel history.

For the most up to date information on COVID-19 in Iceland, visit the website of the Directorate of Health.

Iceland Confirms Third COVID-19 Case, 300 in Quarantine

officials covid-19 almannavarnadeild ríkislögreglustjóra

Iceland confirmed its third COVID-19 case yesterday evening. Some 300 individuals are in home-based quarantine in the country, according to a notice from authorities. All three cases of COVID-19 in the country are Icelanders who recently returned from skiing trips in Northern Italy. All three live in the capital area.

Iceland’s first COVID-19 case was confirmed last Friday, and the individual set in quarantine at the National University Hospital’s Infectious Diseases ward in Reykjavík. Two further cases were confirmed yesterday: a man in his fifties and a woman in her forties, both of whom had returned to Iceland yesterday on Icelandair flights. The airline has decided to distribute flyers to all passengers with information on the virus.

The Icelandic man who tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday was flying from Verona, Italy, which has been defined as a high-risk zone. All of his fellow passengers have been recommended to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days. The woman, on the other hand, was flying from Munich, which is not defines as a high-risk zone. Only passengers sitting close to her in the aeroplane, and those who were also travelling from Italy, have been recommended to take further precautions as regards to the risk of contagion.

As of the time of writing, Icelandic authorities have defined China, Italy (as of Saturday, February 29), South Korea, and Iran as areas with a high risk of infection and have advised against travelling to the countries. Individuals who have been in the countries in the past few days and are in Iceland are advised to stay at home for 14 days as a precaution.

For the most up to date information on COVID-19 in Iceland, visit the website of the Directorate of Health.

Second COVID-19 Case Confirmed in Iceland

Keflavík airport COVID-19

A second Icelander has tested positive for COVID-19 in a case unrelated to the country’s first. The man flew home to Iceland from Verona, Italy yesterday, according to a notice from the Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. While Icelandic authorities had previously designated certain regions of Italy as high-risk zones for COVID-19, that assessment has now been extended to the entire country.

The first Icelander to test positive for COVID-19 was quarantined in the Infectious Diseases ward at the National University Hospital of Iceland last week. The man had recently returned from a skiing trip to Northern Italy.

The second man to be diagnosed with COVID-19 in Iceland is in his 50s, and according to authorities only presented mild symptoms yesterday and even milder ones today.

Quarantine for all travellers coming from Italy

The Chief Epidemiologist has directed all of his fellow passengers, 180 in total, to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days, as well as all travellers coming from Italy from February 29 onward. All those in quarantine should telephone 1700 if they experience symptoms such as cough, fever, or body aches, even if the symptoms are mild.

“Civil Protection and the staff of the Chief Epidemiologist will being tracing all possible pathways of infection in connection with this newly confirmed case,” the aforementioned notice stated. The individuals in question will receive directions tonight regarding quarantine but are asked not to call 1700 unless they experience symptoms.

Authorities request passengers to show patience, as it may take some time to contact everyone.