The Chief Epidemiologist closely monitors the disease caused by the new coronary virus in Wuhan, China.

The Chief Epidemiologist closely monitors information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) on the disease caused by the new coronary virus. Much is still unclear about the disease caused by this virus, but the following is known for certain:

Latest updates and info.

  • The origin of the virus appears to be mainly in Wuhan city of China connected to in a certain food market in the city. Research is currently underway in China on whether the virus can be found elsewhere.
  • Individuals diagnosed with this new virus have almost all come from Wuhan city. They have either traveled to other places in China, to other countries in Asia or to other countries outside Asia.
  • Human to human transmission has been confirmed but does not yet appear to be common.
  • No individual has yet been diagnosed in Europe, but the virus has been detected in a person in the United States that travelled from Wuhan city.
  • The infection has now been confirmed in about 600 people, but the number of infected persons is probably significantly higher.
  • Today, 23 January, 2020, 17 people have died from the virus, all of whom had underlying diseases.
  • The Chinese Authorities have taken radical measures in order to stop the spread of the epidemic, such as ban on transport and assembly of people, which hopefully will stop the spread.

Today, 23 January, the ECDC's risk assessment of this new virus is as follows:

  • The virus is likely to be transmitted to Europe, especially to countries / regions with direct air travel to Wuhan city of China.
  • Further distribution within European countries is unlikely, especially if individuals are identified quickly and appropriate isolation is applied.
  • The virus does not appear to cause as serious disease as the SARS virus did in 2002-2003, when about 10% of those infected died.

What is being done in Iceland?

Official response in Iceland will be based on the severity of the new virus in light of new reliable information.

  • Preparation in Iceland is in accordance with the contingency plans of the Chief Epidemiologist and the Civil Protection Department of the National Commissioner of Police. This means, that guidelines and plans from the SARS epidemic in 2002-2003 will be updated and responders informed.
  • Instructions to healthcare professionals will be updated and published.
  • Instructions will be issued to the public on how to approach the health care system if an infection caused by the new virus is suspected.
  • Guidance will be given to tourists on the response of the Icelandic Health Authorities and how tourists can access the health care system in Iceland.
  • At the international airports in the country, work will be carried out in accordance with the national plan for infection control in airports.
  • Healthcare organizations will be encouraged to update their contingency plans.
  • There is no reason to encourage travel ban to China, but tourists are encouraged to consider infection prevention.
  • There is no reason to screen passengers at airports in this country.

The Chief Epidemiologist will publish new and important information on the website of the Medical Director of Health as necessary.

For further information please contact Mr. Kjartan Hreinn Njálsson Assistant to the Director of Health, by tel. 663-3624 or email kjartanh@landlaeknir.is

Chief Epidemiologist