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South African COVID variant found in border testing

04.03.2021 - 15:51
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Almannavarnir
Since the border rules changed and negative PCR tests became mandatory before travel to Iceland, 1,600 such certificates have been presented. Eight of them were from people that border testing would go on to reveal had the coronavirus. Earlier this week, the South African variant of COVID-19 was diagnosed in border testing in Iceland for the first time.

According to chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason this morning, the situation within Iceland remains good. No new cases were diagnosed yesterday, domestically or at the border.

"It tells us that a negative PCR test, or certificate of one, is not a perfect way of keeping the virus away, though it is without doubt worthwhile to demand these certificates,” Þórólfur said. “So far, 90 individuals have been diagnosed with the so-called British variant, including 20 domestic cases in family member or those with close ties to those diagnosed at the border—but we haven’t seen any spread within the country. One has been diagnosed with the so-called South African variant. That was four days ago,” Þórólfur added. There have still been no cases of the Brazilian variant to date. 

Around 7,000 people received COVID-19 vaccinations this week and a similar number of injections are expected to be administered next week. The supply of vaccine ran out yesterday before everybody invited to attend had received their injection. Heilsugæslan is investigating why this happened and how to prevent it happening again in the coming weeks. 

Asked about what effect the earthquakes and possible volcano might have in regard to the pandemic, Þórólfur and Alma Möller, head of the Directorate of Health, agreed: people should do their best to remain aware and updated about both situations. 

Pandemic fatigue was already a problem in Iceland and around the world, and the situation on the Reykjanes peninsula does not help the public mood, “But I think we can be a bit ‘Pollyanna’ about it too, and say it is a light in the dark that the situation with the pandemic is so good here while we’re facing these earth movements. It would be much worse if we had a major outbreak in progress and had this thrown at us as well. So, we can be happy about some things,” Þórólfur concluded, brightly.  

Asked if the current rules in place might be relaxed even further before the expected 17th March, Þórólfur said there is no reason to think that they will at this stage. 

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