We have now reached a milestone in the fight against COVID-19 and all domestic and border restrictions were lifted at midnight on 25.2.2022. Despite the lifting of all restrictions, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing domestically, although severe consequences are rare. Therefore, everyone is still advised to pay close attention to various aspects of testing, treatment and infection control to minimize, as much as possible, uncontrolled spread of the epidemic and any serious consequences.
In the next few days, various guidelines regarding COVID-19 will be updated on covid.is and landlaeknir.is and the public is requested to stay informed. This article will cover a few issues that are important to the public at this point.
Rapid antigen tests are now offered instead of PCR tests for diagnosing COVID-19. At this stage in the pandemic, rapid antigen tests are considered sufficient for diagnosing the disease.
Those with symptoms indicating COVID-19 can continue to book a test from Heilsuvera or private companies that offer rapid antigen tests. In most cases, the tests are rapid antigen tests and the results will be available shortly after. There is no need to confirm the results of rapid antigen tests with a PCR test. The tests are all free of charge.
A few primary care centers outside of the capital area have chosen to continue offering PCR tests instead of rapid antigen tests, which means a longer waiting period before receiving the test result.
Self-tests are now commonly used in households and workplaces. A positive test result from a self-test suffices to diagnose COVID-19. However, for the diagnosis to be registered in public databases and the medical record, it must be confirmed by a rapid antigen test at a primary health care centter or an approved private company, or by a PCR test.
Although all official COVID-19 measures have been lifted, the public is advised to exercise caution to avoid infection. This involves maintaining a one-meter distance from unrelated individuals, using face masks in crowded places and where you cannot keep a one-meter distance, washing and sanitising your hands and ensuring good ventilation in closed spaces.
With the removal of all restrictions due to COVID-19, there is no longer an obligation to isolate if diagnosed with COVID-19. Those diagnosed with COVID-19 who have respiratory symptoms and fever, are advised to avoid others for at least five days from diagnosis and to follow guidelines for isolation at home. Those diagnosed who have mild to no symptoms and do not have fever can follow guidelines on Special Precaution.
Those diagnosed with COVID-19 are asked to inform the individuals they were in close contact with for 1-2 days before the onset symptoms or a positive test, as others may be infected. These individuals are considered exposed (see below).
The obligation to quarantine was abolished by an amendment to the regulations on 12 February 2022. Instead, exposed individuals were encouraged to exercise Special Precaution for five days. Exposed individuals are still encouraged to follow Special Precaution and follow isolation guidelines or undergo a rapid antigen test if they develop symptoms suggesting COVID-19 in the week after exposure.
Those diagnosed with COVID-19 are encouraged to follow guidelines for isolation referred to above. The primary health care service, in collaboration with the Chief Epidemiologist, will issue further instructions to those who are ill, including general advice for those isolating at home as well as instructions on when and how to seek medical care due to illness.
Results and certificates of a positive COVID-19 test are sent to individuals. Certificates for the period of illness and self-isolation due to COVID-19 e.g. because of absence from work or school must be obtained from a doctor as any medical certificate for any other illnesses. Employers and school administrators are asked to show understanding if individuals need to stay at home due to illness.
The Chief Epidemiologist