COVID-19 Spreads Fast in Iceland

People standing in line in Reykjavík, waiting for a coronavirus …

People standing in line in Reykjavík, waiting for a coronavirus test. mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

Vala Hafstað

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread fast in Iceland, mbl.is reports.

The term R 0 indicates how contagious a disease is, that is, how many people on average will contract a disease from one infected person. The latest reports indicate that the R 0 in Iceland now stands at about 3, meaning that each person outside quarantine infects three people on average.

Things have turned for the worse very suddenly, for as late as September 30 , the R 0 outside quarantine equaled one.

The result of stricter disease prevention rules enacted this week won’t be seen until a week or two from now.

This illustration compares the effect of an R0 of one …

This illustration compares the effect of an R0 of one (left) versus an R0 of four. The R0 in Iceland equals three. Inglesby (2020).

The latest figures on covid.is show that 97 new domestic cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Iceland yesterday – the fourth day in a row that new domestic cases come close to being 100. A total of 24 people are in the hospital with COVID-19, three of whom are in intensive care. The 14-day incidence of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants stands at 220.9, counting cases at the border.

According to the website of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, updated somewhat earlier in the morning than covid.is, only six countries  in Europe have a higher 14-day incidence of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants than Iceland. These are the Czech Republic, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK.

Two quarantine buildings are currently operated on Rauðarárstígur in Reykjavík. According to their director, Gylfi Þór Þorsteinsson, they’ve been much busier during this third wave of the pandemic than they were during the first wave in the spring, mbl.is reports.

“During the first wave, we had a total of 50 guests,” he explains. “Now, [since the start of the third wave] a total of 539 people have been here. On average, we have 88 guests at once, 56 of whom are in isolation.”

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