COVID-19 border testing update

26.06.2020 - 16:55
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 Mynd: RÚV - RUV
The prime minister has just finished leading a press conference on the progress of coronavirus testing at Icelandic borders that began on 15th June. Katrín Jakobsdóttir was joined by Kári Stefánsson, head of deCODE genetics; Alma Möller, head of the Directorate of Health; Víðir Reynisson, state police civil protection chief; and Þórólfur Guðnason, chief epidemiologist.

The prime minister told reporters the rate of infection among people arriving in Iceland has been low so far.

Free testing will finish at the end of this month and people wishing to avoid 14-day quarantine when entering Iceland will have to pay 9,000 krónur for testing if pre-paid, or 11,000 if paid at the airport. This is less than the 15,000 krónur originally announced. Ministers will decide soon whether to stop testing people arriving from certain countries deemed safe. Arrivals from Greenland and the Faroe Islands already enjoy this option.

A outbreak cluster uncovered this week shows the importance of continued preventative measures. Border screening is not only about virus prevention, but is also about collecting imporant data to help the scientific community, the PM said.

Þórólfur told reporters that five of the 9,000 people screened so far have been actively contageous.

He said the footballer who tested positive yesterday but negative when entering the country on 17th June had probably been infected very recently. The risk is always present and the highest risk is from Icelandic residents returning home from overseas. It is possible Icelanders returning from high risk countries like the USA will be asked to start quarantining again. The new system is working well, however, he said.

Kári said the idea that 300 people will need to be in quarantine for two weeks after contact with the football player is not necessarily true. Testing several days from now should be sufficient to see if they can be safely released from quarantine.

Katrín said that while border testing alone will not keep COVID-19 out of Iceland, it is working well in combination with quarantine orders and contact tracing.

Efforts have been made to allow people in quarantine to vote in tomorrow's presidential election, but Víðir says a workable solution has not been found and they will have to stay at home and not vote.

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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