Iceland has tested 5,500 entering travellers for COVID-19 since beginning screening at its borders one week ago. Of the 5,500 tests, just 11 were positive and only two of those were active cases requiring isolation. The numbers were presented by Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason in a briefing held in Reykjavík this afternoon. The ongoing screening at the country’s borders is expected to provide valuable information that could help define COVID-19 risk areas in the coming months.
Some 7,000 people have entered Iceland since the country began testing for COVID-19 at its borders one week ago. Children born in 2005 or later are exempt from COVID-19 testing, as are travellers arriving directly from Greenland and the Faroe Islands. All other passengers can opt between a test upon arrival, or a 14-day quarantine. At today’s briefing, Director of Iceland’s Civil Protection Department Víðir Reynisson stated, perhaps unsurprisingly, that no passengers had yet opted for quarantine over testing.
Flight Quarantine Rules Will Be Updated
When an airline passenger tests positive for COVID-19, individuals sitting closest to them on the flight are required to go into quarantine. Þórólfur stated that just over 20 individuals were required to do so in connection with the two active cases. This number will soon decrease, however, in line with international regulations, as airlines are instituting more sanitary measures (such as mandatory wearing of masks) that will lower the risk of infection. Þórólfur emphasised that no cases had been found of someone contracting the novel coronavirus on a flight and the risk appeared to be very low.
The statistics from the border screening will be analysed at the end of this week. The information could help inform decisions such as discontinuing screening of arrivals from certain countries or focusing on particular regions, Þórólfur stated.
Iceland’s borders are presently only open for travellers from within the Schengen area, but this will change on July 1. From that date, travellers will also be required to pay ISK 15,000 ($114/€100) per test (screening is currently free). When asked about countries outside the Schengen area, Þórólfur named the US, Brazil, India, and Russia as ones where case numbers appear to be rising fast, and would need to be monitored closely as borders opened to those countries’ residents on July 1.
Iceland currently has 8 active cases of COVID-19, and has had no cases of community transmission since June 15.