Cluster of COVID-19 Infections Puts Landspítali on High Alert

Vala Hafstað

For the first time ever, Landspítali University Hospital is operating according to an emergency protocol, after a cluster of infections developed among patients and staff within the hospital, Morgunblaðið reports.

The first infection is believed to have been carried to Landakot, the hospital’s geriatrics department, located at Túngata 26. Presently, 50 people are in the hospital with COVID-19, three of them in intensive care.

The scope of the infections didn’t come to light until over the weekend. By then, COVID-19-infected patients had already been transferred from Landakot to other health care institutions, resulting in further clusters of infections.

One of these institutions is the nursing home Sólvellir in the town of Eyrarbakki, Southwest Iceland, where 13 residents and four staff members are infected. The other one is the rehabilitation center Reykjalundur in Reykjavík, where five patients have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Operations at Reykjalundur have been halted as a result.

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason states that the series of events is something health authorities had feared might happen. “But the scope of it is startling,” he adds. This may affect disease prevention measures in society, he states, but first, we must find out whether this cluster of infections has spread in society. Already, close to 80 infections have been traced to these clusters, and the tracing work is far from over. About 40 of those infected are in their 80s.

Landspítali CEO Páll Matthíasson states the hospital attempts to provide hospital beds for patients - COVID-19-infected patients and others who are seriously ill. All elective operations will be postponed, likely into November.

The virus has now spread among the most vulnerable age group, many of whom have been hospitalized, and their numbers are likely to grow in the coming days. According to Páll, 270 employees of Landspítali are in quarantine. This will result in an increased workload for other staff members, which is a major challenge. Már Kristjánsson, head of Landspítali’s infectious disease division, states the hospital will thoroughly investigate how the virus spread to Landakot.

According to covid.is, 50 new domestic cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Iceland yesterday. Fourteen people tested positive for the virus at the border, 11 of whom still await the results of antibody tests. There are currently 1,030 active cases of the disease in Iceland, and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 inhabitants stands at 250.3.

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