More Omicron Cases Suspected in Iceland

Vala Hafstað

It is suspected that cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Iceland are not limited to the one that was confirmed last night, reports. The patient, who was diagnosed after being admitted to Landspítali National University Hospital, had previously been admitted to a health institution outside the capital area.

Right now, it is under consideration whether special disease prevention measures must be taken at that institution. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason stresses the importance of individual disease prevention efforts and tells the public to remain calm.

When asked whether he believes there are cases of the Omicron variant elsewhere in society, he responds, “I strongly expect that, and I think it’s so to say certain. We don’t know how widespread it is, but of course it has spread here, just like everywhere else.”

Several individuals are being examined who were around the person diagnosed yesterday. “I expect others to be diagnosed,” Þórólfur states.

“It is essential for everyone to remain calm regarding this variant,” he adds, “and to keep using the individual disease prevention methods everyone should be familiar with, such as by respecting the one-meter [social distancing] rule, using face masks, avoiding large gatherings, and so on. Besides, it is essential to get a PCR test, not just a rapid test, if you notice symptoms, especially if you’ve been around people with a confirmed case.”

The patient diagnosed yesterday is not seriously ill, Þórólfur notes, and adds that so far, no one with the Omicron variant has fallen seriously ill. He explains that people sometimes need to be hospitalized even when they’re not seriously ill with COVID-19, due to underlying conditions.

Þórólfur urges everyone to accept a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine, available to anyone who received a second dose at least five months ago, since it has proven to work very well against the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which remains the cause of most coronavirus infections in Iceland.

“Thor Aspelund [professor of epidemiology and biostatistics] and his team at the University of Iceland have calculated that the effectiveness of the booster shot exceeds that of the second shot by 90 percent,” Þórólfur states, “so there is a great deal to be gained from showing up for the booster shot. Then it remains to be seen how effective it is against the Omicron variant.”

As we reported earlier this morning, the patient diagnosed yesterday had received a booster shot prior to being diagnosed.

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