People who have tested positive for COVID-19 can be very contagious, especially while they have symptoms of the disease. The Chief Epidemiologist therefore advises that people isolate for five days after a positive COVID-19 test, after which they are advised to exercise Special Precaution for a further two days.
You can find information and advice via Heilsuvera's online chat and by calling 513 1700 or 1700. In an emergency, always call 112 - the National Emergency Number.
Landspítali (The National University Hospital of Iceland) has issued guidelines for children and adults who have tested positive for COVID-19. The symptoms of COVID-19 may vary from person to person as well as day to day. The main symptoms are: fever, cough, cold symptoms, sore throat, fatigue, headache, aching joints and muscles, sudden change in sense of smell or taste, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Among other things, the guidelines stress the importance of staying hydrated and monitoring symptoms. They also provide advice on pain relief and more.
You are strongly advised to isolate for the first five days after testing positive. That means that you should avoid contact with other people, take the utmost care when using shared areas, wear a mask, wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect contaminated surfaces. Please be particularly careful to avoid people who may be vulnerable to serious illness due to COVID-19.
If your symptoms persist after five days, you are advised to continue your isolation. Otherwise, you are advised to exercise special precaution for a further two days.
Others in the household do not need to isolate themselves or quarantine. However, they should not have contact with the infected person and they are advised to follow protocol for Special Precaution.
Isolation is no longer compulsory in Iceland, even if people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. However, it is recommended that people isolate themselves for at least 5 days, or for as long as symptoms are severe, and then follow the rules on special precautions for an additional two days.
From the time the first COVID-19 infection was diagnosed in Iceland, at the end of February in 2020, until all infection prevention measures were discontinued at the end of February 2022, people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 were obliged to go into isolation to prevent the spread of the disease.
Isolation was a stricter measure than quarantine and therefore placed greater demands on the person in isolation than those that applied to people in quarantine.
Detailed guidelines for isolating in the home were issued, where it was specified, amongst other things, that a person in isolation needed a private bedroom and preferably a private bathroom and to have as little contact with others as possible. Ideally, there would be full separation from other household members and strict infection prevention measures implemented, such as disinfecting all contact surfaces and ventilating.
People in isolation were not allowed to leave the home and had to isolate from other people completely. It was not allowed to meet friends and relatives, go to work, go for a walk or use public transportation. It was not allowed to move between locations whilst in isolation, and going outside the house was not permitted unless people had a balcony or private garden at their disposal. It was permitted to seek necessary healthcare services, provided consultation with the healthcare facility. Towards the end of the pandemic, when the Omicron variant became dominant in society, the requirements for isolation were relaxed and people were allowed to take a short walk near their home or place of residence, as the symptoms of Omicron were in most cases much milder than previous variants.
If many people in the same household were diagnosed with COVID-19, they were free to be together in isolation. If people were quarantined in the same home, that quarantine ended with a negative PCR test the day after the isolation ended. If COVID-19 infection was detected in a quarantined member of the household, the quarantine of others was prolonged until the day after the isolation of that household member was completed.
Rules for the end of isolation were also issued, which provided guidance on, for example, room cleaning, laundry and disinfection.
For most of the pandemic, isolation lasted for 14 days from when a positive test result was obtained. At the end of October 2021, isolation could be shortened by up to 7 days, if certain conditions were met, such as people being fully vaccinated and asymptomatic. In others, isolation could be shortened to 10 days, if the infected person had been without fever for at least 48 hours and other symptoms were lessening. After the Omicron variant became dominant, and the symptoms in most cases became milder, isolation was shortened to 5 days, but people were asked to use special precautions for an additional 2 days. The regulation on isolation expired on 25 February 2022, and after that, there were only recommendations and no obligation to be in isolation.
The staff of Landspítali’s COVID outpatient ward communicated with people during isolation, first by telephone call to everyone diagnosed and later with online questionnaires. People who became seriously ill were in many cases called to the outpatient ward for evaluation and treatment, and from there, some had to be admitted to the hospital for further treatment.
The requirement to isolate was based on an authorisation from the Act on Infectious Disease and with the regulations from the Minister.