Fifth Day of No New COVID-19 Cases in Iceland

Vala Hafstað

No new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Iceland today, the fifth day in a row. At Landspítali and deCode Genetics combined, there were 578 samples analyzed yesterday, bringing the total number of samples to 54,791, or 15 percent of the nation.

The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 1,801, and only one COVID-19 patient is hospitalized - not in intensive care. There are only 15 active cases of the disease in the country.

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason worries that once bars and night clubs reopen, group infections could result, as has been the case in South Korea and Germany. Therefore, he stated at yesterday’s press conference, their reopening may have to wait a while.

Extra restrictions that had been imposed in the West Fjords were lifted yesterday, and that area is now under the same restrictions as the rest of the country, that is, a ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people.

“At the moment, there are few cases of the disease in society,” Þórólfur stated, “but the virus is still out there, somewhere.”

The next easing of restrictions is planned for May 25 and thereafter June 15. Þórólfur sent Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir a memo yesterday, suggesting that current travel restrictions be extended for the coming weeks or months, or until another arrangement has been agreed upon. The current rules, in effect through May 14, require a 14-day quarantine for everyone who arrives in the country.

Not surprisingly, as reported by Morgunblaðið earlier, the European Commission recommended Friday to Schengen member states, as well as Schengen associated states (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) - 30 countries in all - to extend the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union until June 15. The travel ban was imposed March 17.

“The lifting of travel restrictions should be phased,” a press release states, “as underlined in the Joint European Roadmap on lifting containment measures, internal border controls will need to start being lifted gradually and in a coordinated manner before restrictions at the external borders can be relaxed in a second stage.”

For the latest COVID-19 information, go to covid.is.

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