Iceland’s Minister of Health, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, announced that the current entry restrictions will remain in place until October 20, in an effort to protect Icelandic citizens from the easily transmitted COVID-19 virus.
In a press release issued by the authority, infection rates are expected to rise, as predicted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Therefore, according to them, governments should start preparing for the surge, which will be prominent during the first weeks or months of winter, TheSchengen.com reports.
“In light of the development of the epidemic abroad and the experience in Iceland of a complete lifting of restrictions, I think it is more concerning about the relaxation of epidemiological measures in Iceland than the current ones,” the chief epidemiologist stated, and also suggested entry restrictions should be extended for another month.
Although the health minister agreed that restrictions should remain in place, she plans to update the guidelines every two weeks.
With infection rates low and vaccination rates reaching about 70 percent of the population, local disease control measures were lifted in June, and this was later facilitated for passengers getting tested at the border. However, after the termination of these measures, the epidemiological situation in Iceland worsened, with unvaccinated individuals such as children being the most affected. During this time, two severe cases infected with the virus were hospitalized.
Since 1 October, Icelandic citizens returning home or to their loved ones have been able to do so without having to undergo a COVID-19 test before or upon arrival. This decision was made in an effort to ease precautionary measures for travelers.
Passengers on connecting flights that do not leave the border crossing point will also be exempted from presenting such a certificate. However, as before, those with ties to Iceland must be sampled after arriving in the country, with the exception of children born in or after 2005, the press release said, noting that the decision will be in effect until November 6.
According to the statistics of COVID-19 in Iceland, the infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days is 123.3 positive cases, while the border cases were recorded at 6.8.
Moreover, since February 2020, 12,035 positive cases with COVID-19 have been recorded in the country. Currently, there are 44 positive cases reported by the authorities, of which 32 have been reported in the past 24 hours, nine of which are in hospital, and one case is being treated in intensive care facilities. The hardest-hit region of the country is the northeastern region, which has the highest number of cases.
ECDC reveals that 91.9 percent of Iceland’s population has received the first vaccine, while 90.8 percent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated. The country has received 649,230 vaccine doses, of which 503,110 doses have already been given to Icelandic citizens.