Icelandic authorities start coronavirus preparations

24.01.2020 - 15:00
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The Directorate of Health is working alongside the public safety branch of the State police on strengthening and updating Iceland’s response plan in the event of a serious pandemic. Their work is in response to the current spread of a new strain of coronavirus that is spreading around the world but has yet to reach Iceland. Keflavík International Airport has also activated its infection prevention strategy.

The Directorate of Health website states that activity at Keflavík airport currently consists of measures to spot and diagnose infected or potentially infected travellers. All arriving passengers will be given a message saying they must present themselves for medical assessment upon arrival if they have been in Wuhan, China, within the past 14 days, or if they have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected coronavirus patient. The next step is up to doctors to decide, but several days’ quarantine is one of the options open to them. 

All disease prevention actions are designed to identify the sick as quickly as possible and therefore minimise their chance of spreading the illness further within Iceland.  

The cost of making all passengers answer a questionnaire and have their temperature taken was considered too expensive for the time being. 

All healthcare institutions in the country have been informed about the new virus and encouraged to update their procedures; including ensuring suitable quarantine space is available. The Directorate website will publish details of how people should approach healthcare institutions if they suspect they have been infected. 

The authorities will also work with the Icelandic Tourist Board to distribute important information on the coronavirus to people visiting the country. 

Coronavirus infection has been confirmed in 897 individuals around the world so far and 26 have died. As well as the official figures, there are also unconfirmed cases in several European countries, including Finland and the UK. According to the Directorate of Health, despite news of the spreading outbreak, there is no indication that the virus has become any more dangerous as it spreads. Most of the dead so far have been elderly people with pre-existing conditions.

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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