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Special precaution

Special Precaution due to COVID-19

People are encouraged to use special precautions when they have been in contact with or in the same place as someone who is later diagnosed with COVID-19. By using special precautions, the number of transmission routes is reduced and we reduce the spread of COVID-19. Using special precautions lasts for 5 days from the time you last met the infected person.

People who are diagnosed with COVID-19 but have little or no symptoms and have no fever are asked to use special precautions.

According to Special Precaution Protocol:

You can go to work, attend school and play sports.
You are advised to avoid crowds.
You are advised to wear a mask around other people as you cannot predict who could be at risk around you.
You are advised to avoid contact with people who may be vulnerable to serious illness due to COVID-19.
You are permitted to access essential and non-essential services.
You should not visit health care facilities, including nursing homes, without institutional permission.
You are advised to inform those performing a service at a proximity (such as physiotherapists or hairdressers) that you are following Special Precaution Protocol.
You should carefully monitor symptoms and immediately get a test if you experience any symptoms.

Main COVID-19 symptoms: Fever, cough, cold symptoms, sore throat, weakness, fatigue, headache, bone/muscle pain, sudden change in smell and taste, stomach ache and diarrhoea.

Symptom testing can be booked at Heilsuvera on My pages (with an electronic ID), on or by calling the health center 513 1700 or via the online chat at Heilsuvera, or by calling the off-hour Medical Clinic (Læknavaktin) via 1700.

About special precautions

After COVID-19 arrived in Iceland at the end of February 2020, extensive infection prevention measures were launched to try to curb the pandemic. Thus, people who had been infected went into isolation and those who were exposed went into quarantine. During the course of the pandemic, and especially as vaccinations progressed, ways were sought to reduce the burden of infection prevention measures without endangering the health of the Icelandic people. One of the measures taken was to use special precautions. The use of special precautions is a milder procedure than quarantine, and in contrast, the use of special precautions is not provided for in the Act on Infectious Disease.

During the use of special precautions, people were advised to wear a mask around other people, stay away from crowded places and crowds, maintain a two-metre proximity rule, work from home if possible and avoid associating with vulnerable groups. People using special precautions were not allowed to visit healthcare facilities, incl. nursing homes, without the institution’s permission.

However, it was okay to go to work, school and play sports and use necessary services. People were encouraged to inform those who provide services in close proximity, such as physiotherapists and hairdressers, that they were using special precautions.

Who used special precautions

Special precautions were first discussed in July 2020, in the context of infection prevention measures on arrival back home to Iceland. There were recommendations to Icelanders on their way home from abroad, to be careful for the first few days after returning home despite having been tested at the border and then a recommendation to take another test 5 days later. This arrangement of double testing at the border later became a general rule upon arrival in Iceland, but instead of using special precautions, people were quarantined between testing.

When the Rakning C-19 app was introduced in the summer of 2020, people who had been exposed according to information from the app were invited to register for special precautions. With traditional infection tracing, it would have been possible to decide who should be quarantined due to the exposure, but because it was not possible to confirm the exposure conclusively, people were invited to use special precautions instead.

On 1 July 2021, the rules on quarantine were changed so that those who were vaccinated or had a history of previous infection did not have to be quarantined even if someone in the household was quarantined. It was sufficient to use special precautions. This change was later reversed.

In the autumn of 2021, vaccination had become widespread, and although it reduced the risk of infection and serious illness, it did not prevent infection. When schools started again after the summer holidays, there were loud voices about the need to accommodate children and students, as many children and their families had had to repeatedly quarantine the previous winter, and it was clear that any changes preventing children from having to spend long periods of time outside of school would be beneficial. As a result, the conditions for quarantine were considerably narrowed, but the use of special precautions became the rule for those who were less exposed and less likely to have been infected by contact.

At the end of the pandemic, an arrangement was introduced for infected people so that isolation was shortened in a few steps from 14 days to 5, but it was recommended that people use special precautions for at least 2 days after isolation ended. Likewise, asymptomatic people were allowed to leave isolation and instead use special precautions.

In January 2022, the rules on quarantine were changed so that only those who were exposed to infection at home had to go into quarantine, while those who were exposed outside the home used special precautions.

How did special precautions work?

Because the term special precautions was used differently during the course of the pandemic, it differed in its exact nature.

The aforementioned return to Iceland precautions were 5 days, and the same was true of special precautions recorded due to possible exposure according to the Rakning C-19 app. In the Regulation No. 938 on quarantine and isolation, which was issued in the autumn of 2021, the use of special precautions was also defined as 5 days and people were invited for a rapid test on day 1 and day 5.

Towards the end of the pandemic, the use of special precautions that took over after 7 or 5 days of isolation did not end with a rapid test.

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