Iceland Performing in Eurovision Semi-final Tonight

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Icelandic sisters Sigga, Beta, and Elín will perform in the first 2022 Eurovision Semi-final tonight. Iceland is performing 14th out of 17 acts this evening. Only 10 will qualify for the grand final on Saturday.

Iceland’s competing song Með hækkandi sól (e. With the Rising Sun) is a folk-tinged anthem of hope composed by Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, known as Lay Low. Lovísa has said the lyrics are influenced by 19th-century Icelandic poetry, including that of the poet Undína (Helga Steinvör Baldvinsdóttir). An English translation of the lyrics is available on lyricstranslate.com.

Tonight’s participants in order of performance are: Albania, Latvia, Lithuania, Switzerland, Slovenia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Moldova, Portugal, Croatia, Denmark, Austria, Iceland, Greece, Norway, and Armenia. A second semi-final with 18 performances will take place on Thursday, followed by the grand final on Saturday night.

Iceland’s representatives in 2021, Daði & gagnamagnið, landed in fourth place in the competition, despite a COVID-19 infection that prevented the band from performing live. Iceland’s performance tonight is confirmed: the band and crew have tested negative for COVID-19.

Iceland Confirms Third COVID-19 Case, 300 in Quarantine

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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

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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.

Orca Completes 8,000km Swim from Iceland to Lebanon

A male orca whale belonging to an Icelandic pod was sighted around Beirut, Lebanon, on February 19 and 20. Per a press release issued by Orca Guardians of Iceland, this is a journey of just over 8,000 kilometres (4,970 miles) and is the longest known one-way distance travelled by any ‘killer whale’ to date.

The whale identified as SN113, or “Riptide,” started his journey off the coast of the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland, where he was last seen in June 2018. He and his pod were later spotted around Genoa, Italy in December 2019 before moving on to Lebanon. Orca Guardians say this is also the first confirmed sighting of an orca in Lebanese waters. RÚV reports that Riptide’s marathon swim has broken the previous record for longest documented distance travelled by an orca by 2,500 km (1,553 miles).

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Orca Guardians head Marie-Thérèse Mrusczok was able to identify Riptide by markings on his dorsal fin and head using photographs of the wandering whale and comparing them to her organisation’s catalogue of 300 individuals. Orca Guardians has some concern for Riptide’s health at this point, as the whale is reported to appear emaciated and is travelling without the other members of its pod, who had been his companions both in Iceland and in Italy.

Orca Guardians report that there are 29 known orca whales that migrate Scotland and Iceland, but that this is the first time an orca has travelled this particular route, from Iceland to Italy to Lebanon. In an interview with RÚV, Marie-Thérèse said that it is, in fact, unusual for an orca to swim into Mediterranean waters at all.

“Orcas have never really been seen before in Lebanon,” she explained. “There were sailors who said they saw them swimming there in the 1980s, but nothing was confirmed. So this is unusual. It was also strange when they were seen in Italy. Orcas don’t usually swim so far into the Mediterranean.”

Russian Bombers Re-Enter NATO Airspace Near Iceland

Two Russian bombers flew into the NATO airspace surveillance area near Iceland late on Wednesday night. According to a press release issued by the Icelandic Coast Guard, the two planes neither announced themselves to air traffic control nor had their radio transponders on. It is the second time this month Russian aircraft enter NATO airspace in the region.

In accordance with NATO regulations, two Italian fighter jets—both in Iceland as part of a four-week NATO deployment—were sent to identify the unknown aircrafts. The unknown aircrafts were identified as two Russian Tupolev Tu-142 (Bear F) bombers. Although the Russian planes were in NATO’s airspace surveillance area, they were not within Icelandic airspace.

Two Russian bombers of the same make flew unannounced into the NATO airspace surveillance area near Iceland earlier this month, at which time, the Icelandic Coast Guard took the same measures, sending the Italian fighter jets to identify them.

The Coast Guard indicated in Thursday’s announcement that NATO airspace policing near Iceland is still in effect. As of March 11, however, four Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 fighter jets also arrived in Iceland. Per an announcement on the Allied Air Command website, these jets are on a “four-week deployment to deliver NATO Airborne Surveillance and Intercept Capabilities to meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs.” The project is under the jurisdiction of NATO’s Combined Air Operations Center in Uedem, Germany, but is under the direction of the Icelandic Coast Guard in Iceland, in collaboration with Isavia.