Up to 1,000 Tourists Could Be Tested a Day

Eggert Jóhannesson

Vala Hafstað

Samples collected from travelers arriving in Iceland once the country’s borders open in mid-June will be transported to Reykjavík and analyzed at the lab of the Department of Microbiology at Landspítali National University Hospital, Morgunblaðið reports. Results should be available within five hours. The maximum number of samples taken and analyzed a day is expected to be 1,000.

Equipment making it possible to analyze samples on the spot and obtain results in 15 minutes is not available.

A task force responsible for managing the preparation for and execution of the collection of the samples and their analysis begins work today. Isavia, the company that operates Keflavík International Airport, will have to provide a facility for taking the samples and registering them. In addition, a special area needs to be created for passengers arriving from high-risk countries.

Eggert Jóhannesson

The plan is to begin collecting samples from arriving passengers no later than June 15. The government recently announced that by then, passengers will be able to avoid spending 14 days in quarantine, either by being tested for the novel coronavirus at the airport or by presenting proof of having tested negative for the virus before their trip.

The task force has been asked to make suggestions regarding how passengers who arrive in Iceland via other international airports or by the ferry Norræna to Seyðisfjörður, the East Fjords.

After a period of two weeks, during which tourists will be tested upon arrival, the situation will be reassessed.

The cost of each sample should not exceed ISK 50,000 (USD 343; EUR 317). By comparison, a company that offers screening at Vienna International Airport in Austria charges tourists the equivalent of ISK 30,000 (about USD 206; EUR 190) per test.

According to Morgunblaðið , the Icelandic State plans to cover the cost of the tests to begin with. After that, travelers could potentially be charged for the tests.

Karl G. Kristinsson, head of Landspítali’s Department of Microbiology, states that the cost of testing could go down with more efficient equipment, which is being ordered from abroad.

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