Border Testing to Continue in Iceland

Vala Hafstað

At a press conference yesterday, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason revealed that deCode Genetics has offered to assist Landspítali National University Hospital with border testing of passengers for the coronavirus by analyzing part of the samples collected.

“I expect the offer to be accepted,” he stated. Lately, the hospital’s Department of Microbiology has been close to maximum capacity in terms of analysis of the tests, the number of which has four times exceeded 2,000 - the official daily limit – in recent days.

When border testing began June 15, it was at first handled by deCode Genetics, but the company pulled out of that role in mid-July, handing the work over to Landspítali.

“They [i.e. deCode] are ready to help the Department of Microbiology out,” Þórólfur explained, “because otherwise it is clear that either the capacity [for testing] has to increase, or access to the country has to be limited.”

Þórólfur stated there is every reason to continue testing at the border in the present form to minimize the risk of further infections in the country. Only passengers from the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Germany are exempt from testing.

In order to contain the spread of the pandemic, Icelanders can expect to see restrictions on public gatherings being alternatively tightened and eased for months to come, Þórólfur predicted.

During the second wave of COVID-19 in Iceland, which began to affect the country a couple of weeks ago, infections have been the most common among young people. At the press conference, Director of Health Alma Möller stressed the importance for this age group to do its share of disease prevention.

For the latest information on COVID-19, go to covid.is, where figures are updated daily at 11 am.

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