COVID-19 in Iceland, Part 2

Here we are in mid-August and the world is still crippled by the global pandemic. I spoke at length about Iceland’s steps to combat COVID-19 in my last blog post. Since there there have been a few developments.

Domestic Infection Incident Rate

Domestic Infection Incident Rate

Iceland “beat” the first wave quickly. People were respectful of the instructions coming from the leaders here and the distancing rules worked. We had an extended period with no domestic infection at all and so it was decided to begin reopening borders. This has been happening slowly, phasing in more and more locations and with various types of border screening. We knew that this would bring infection, but the hope was to be able to quickly identify and contain it when that happened.

More recently that control has slipped and we’re witnessing a domestic spread that’s not fully contained. Icelanders returning from abroad seem to be the biggest issue as they meet friends and family and interact much more with the community than tourists. We now have infections in several regions that have been verified to be the same strain and coming from a single source, but that source hasn’t been found.

Our numbers are back up to about ~121 infected and many more in quarantine. The new travel rules say that everyone entering Iceland will need to be tested twice and stay in quarantine for several days between the tests. Sometimes if you are newly infected you can test negative but still transmit the disease. Thus, if we test you and you are negative we test you again 5 days later and it should show positive if you were one of those sneaky cases. Also we’re back to the 2-meter rule and for the first time ever we have a public mask order in effect if you are in a public place where you can’t maintain 2-meters distance.

This time around the locals aren’t playing along as well as they could, sadly. There’s quite a few incidents of people having little parties and such, and each time it’s creating little outbreaks. It’s nowhere near as bad as the US is, though. I’m confident we’ll get through this latest iteration soon.