Time to Lift COVID-19 Restrictions in Iceland

Landspítali National University Hospital.

Landspítali National University Hospital. mbl.is

Vala Hafstað

An action plan for the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions needs to be presented, states Runólfur Pálsson, managing director of Landspítali National University Hospital’s treatment division and head of the hospital’s COVID-19 outpatient clinic, Morgunblaðið reports. He states that the plan needs to be a cooperative effort of the chief epidemiologist, Landspítali and health clinics, as well as other parties.

Weaknesses within the system need to be identified and fixed as well for the hospital to be able to face the lifting of all restriction.

Runólfur Pálsson.

Runólfur Pálsson. Photo/Árni Sæberg

“I believe we, at the COVID-19 outpatient clinic, have to limit service to those who have no symptoms to be able to focus on caring for the ones who are the sickest,” he states.

Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson states that the current disease prevention rules are based on a premise that’s no longer valid.

“Restricting people’s freedom is something we need to take seriously,” he states. “If the arguments used to do so are no longer valid, we must react.”

Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson and Landspítali’s acting CEO Guðaug Rakel Guðjónsdóttir published an article yesterday, in which they state that all routes toward the lifting of restrictions will be looked at.

Kári Stefánsson.

Kári Stefánsson. mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

Kári Stefánsson, CEO of deCode Genetics, agrees that restrictions should be lifted. “I totally agree that we should lift all restrictions as soon as possible,” Kári states. He believes the border should continue to be monitored to begin with, because although the Omicron variant causes mild symptoms, we need to keep an eye on the Delta variant.

What exactly does he mean by lifting all restrictions?

“I mean we should no longer apply quarantine, and we should not even isolate those who get infected.” He’d like to treat the virus domestically just like influenza.

At present, about 95 percent of those infected in Iceland are infected with the Omicron variant, the rest with Delta.

“It has been such a long time, and we can’t keep holding our breath. We’ll face this and see how it goes,” he notes and adds that if things don’t go well, restrictions can be tightened anew.

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