Indications of Imminent Exponential Growth

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason.

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason. Photo/Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management

Vala Hafstað

The daily number of new confirmed domestic cases of COVID-19 continues to rise in Iceland, reaching 20 yesterday. Eleven of the people diagnosed were not in quarantine. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason tells mbl.is this is in line with what was expected, based on the number of people infected in recent days who were outside quarantine.

He adds that if the same development continues, the daily number of new cases could increase manifold, and get as high as a few dozen, even a hundred.

“This could occur very fast,” he states. “There are indications that this is reaching exponential growth again,” unless something causes a change in the development. “Of course, this is the kind of thing we don’t want to happen again.”

Professor Thor Aspelund.

Professor Thor Aspelund. Ásdís Ásgeirsdóttir


What worries him the most is the number of people diagnosed who are not in quarantine. He points out that serious illness due to the coronavirus usually develops a week after diagnosis. Therefore, hospitals could see an increase in patient numbers a week from now.

He stresses the importance of avoiding all group gatherings during the holiday season. When asked about increased shopping during Black Friday, he responds, “Any gathering of groups involves risk.”

Thor Aspelund, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Iceland, told mbl.is yesterday that the R 0, - which measures how contagious a disease is, that is, how many people on average will contract a disease from one infected person - now exceeds 1.5. “Once the R 0 exceeds one, we can expect a spike,” he stated. “This could result in a new wave [of the disease] of a similar size.”

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

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