By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Health officials in Iceland say that data suggests that the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country is showing clear signs of deceleration, reporting 295 cases in the past week and 363 recoveries.
Mr. Thorolfur Gudnason, Chief Epidemiologist in Iceland advises that the apparent success is precarious, and minor setbacks can change the outlook dramatically. “We anticipate being able to slowly ease the social distancing measure we have put in place, but we will have to continue to exercise extreme caution in the foreseeable future in order to minimize the risk of a renewed outbreak”, he stated.
Furthermore, it is assumed that despite the peak in active infections having been reached, it is likely that we are still a few days from the peak in hospitalizations. “Our healthcare workers and hospitals have shown admirable foresight and perseverance in the fight against Covid-19. We are now bracing ourselves for the period of peak intensity in terms of the need for intensive care possible and ventilator support,” says Alma Möller, Iceland’s Surgeon General.
Iceland’s strategy has been based on:
• social distancing measures, focused on vulnerable populations first and then society at-large,
• a very high level of testing, in collaboration with deCode Genetics,
• diligent tracing efforts of each known infection
• a policy of self-quarantining for individuals considered at-risk of having been infected
• innovative treatment and monitoring options with an emphasis on remote care.
It needs to be emphasized that the situation in Iceland is unusual in many ways. The population is small, cohesive and mostly homogenous. “We are an island with one major point of entry from abroad. Many other peculiarities make Iceland’s position different from most other nations. That being said, we have a very sincere hope that our efforts, both in terms of policy and data generation will prove to be valuable for academics and policy makers in the future. The world is all in this together and it is vital that every country draws learnings both internally and externally to improve our readiness for any similar events in the future, or the continuation of this event in the upcoming months and years,” says Gudnason.
The number of infections detected in Iceland so far is 1648, including six deaths.
This is a very high number of infections in relation to its small population (4 489 on a per million basis). This high number is largely attributable to the fact that significantly more testing has been done in Iceland than in any other country (except for the Faroe Islands).