Iceland’s response

Government objectives and actions

The objective of the measures taken in Icelandic authorities have from the beginning had a clear purpose, that is to ensure that the necessary infrastructure — particularly to include the healthcare system — is able to withstand the strain that the illness will cause in Iceland.

In this context, it is important to stress that anyone could contract the virus, but that the vast majority of people will not become seriously ill. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions are most vulnerable to serious illness. In order to protect these groups, we must join forces to slow down the spread of the virus and thereby ensure that these vulnerable individuals have ready access to effective, efficient healthcare service if they need it.

In the beginning the aim was to spread out the strain over a longer period of time so that healthcare institutions in Iceland can provide the best possible care to all.

Government objectives and actions

On March 6 Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist and the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Managemen declared the highest alert level — an emergency phase— as a result of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. This was done in accordance with the Pandemic National Response Plan.  These measures primarily affect key institutions and companies in Iceland, so that they will take the action necessary to address the genuine threat stemming from COVID-19. All actions taken during an epidemic affect people’s daily lives, but to varying degrees. The authorities are therefore introducing measures that are known to be successful. We focus on evidence-based measures that have a successful track record, such as quarantine at home (self-quarantine), isolation for infected persons, early diagnosis of infection, and effective information disclosure to the public. A ban on gatherings for 100 people or more was imposed and on March 24 a stricter measure was inforced with a ban on gatherings for 20 people or more.

The premise for these actions is that there be a community-wide consensus: that we all agree to follow expert advice and participate together in this endeavor. Infectious diseases affect individuals’ health, but they also affect the well-being of the entire community. Civil protection is in our hands.

Icelandic authorities are taking strict measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 disease in the country, according to news from the Government of Iceland. The heaviest focus has been on testing, contact tracing and quarantine of individuals considered to be likely carriers. Furthermore, very strict measures have been in place for several weeks to protect the groups considered most vulnerable from infection as well as measures to minimize the risk of infection at medical establishments.
A prediction model for the number of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 and the corresponding burden on the health care system has been developed. The head of the prediction model on behalf of University of Iceland’s Health Sciences Institute is Dr. Thor Aspelund. The prediction model is conducted by scientists from the University of Iceland, the Directorate of Health, and the National Hospital.

The Department of civil protection and emergency management publishes status report each weekday.

COVID-19 – what is it?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause a variety of illnesses in humans and animals. They are a known cause of the common cold; however, some strains of coronavirus can also cause severe pneumonia and even death. Previous epidemics that are known to have been caused by a coronavirus are SARS, which originated China in 2002-2003, and MERS, which struck the Middle East beginning in 2012. SARS and MERS were less contagious than seasonal influenza but caused epidemics in certain areas and put heavy strain on hospitals. The mortality rate (the number of deaths relative to the number of infections) of SARS and MERS was also much higher than the mortality rate of seasonal influenza or COVID-19.

You can access an educational video explaining what COVID-19 is, COVID-19 - what is it?

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