Questions and answers regarding coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19

About coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

 

Q. What is coronavirus?
A. Coronaviruses are known to infect humans and a variety of animals (including birds and mammals). This family of viruses usually cause mild acute respiratory illness in humans (the common cold) but may cause more severe or even fatal diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which are associated with specific virus types believed to have spread to humans from animals. MERS and SARS have caused large but localized or primarily health-care related (nosocomial) outbreaks. The COVID-19 disease has been more wide spread than both MERS or SARS and caused more illness.



Q. What is known about this new virus and related outbreak at this stage?
A. The current pandemic is caused by a coronavirus not previously found in humans. The virus is closely related to the SARS coronavirus and is called SARS-CoV-2, and the illness it causes is called COVID-19. The virus was initially not thought to be as deadly as SARS or MERS, which have death rates of 10% and 35% respectively, but the new virus is more infectious and therefore has affected more people and caused more illness.

COVID-19 was first diagnosed in Wuhan city in China and most of the early cases had connections to a certain market that sold live animals. This new virus seems to have arisen in bats, possibly with another animal host bridging the transfer to humans before human-to-human transmission became dominant.

 

Q. Are children particularly vulnerable?
A. Children of all ages have been infected with the virus but serious illness seems uncommon in children although information on the disease in children is sparse.

In Wuhan, a review of more than 72,000 cases from the Chinese CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) of which 44,672 were confirmed cases; 1% of cases were 0-9 years old and 1% were 10–19% years old. Most patients (81%) had mild disease, 14% had severe disease, and 5% had critical disease (Wu Z, et al. JAMA Feb 24, 2020). And in a nationwide case series of 2143 pediatric patients (less than 18 years old) with COVID-19 reported to the Chinese CDC, over 90% of all patients were asymptomatic, mild, or moderate cases. Young children, particularly infants, were possibly more vulnerable for severe infection but since most cases were not confirmed as COVID-19 it is possible those infants had other infections such as RSV or influenza (Yuanyuan D, et al. Pediatrics March 16 2020).

 

Q. Are pregnant women at risk of severe disease?
A. No information has been found to indicate that COVID-19 causes any special risks for pregnant women or risk of side effects during pregnancy in addition to the general risk associated with pregnancy. Due to changes in their bodies and immune systems pregnant women can be badly affected by some infections. It is therefore important that they take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19, and report symptoms (including fever, cough, difficulty breathing and loss of taste or smell) to their healthcare provider. No specific advice, therefore, is in effect for pregnant women that are generally healthy, only general infection prevention and hygiene measures in accordance to advice to the public. The virus does not appear to infect the foetus during the third trimester.

From 36th week of pregnancy women are advised to stay home as much as possible. The reason is not that pregnant women are more at risk of contracting the virus but rather to both minimize chances of infection and of infecting healthcare workers in the maternity ward. If possible it is recommended to work from home during this time.

 

 

Measures taken in Iceland


Q. What are the response measures taken in Iceland?
A. The official response to COVID-19 in Iceland is decided by daily risk assessment based on the current reliable information available:

  • The current response phase for Iceland due to COVID-19 is EMERGENCY PHASE.
  • Preparations were made according to the response plans generated by the Chief Epidemiologist and the Civil Protection Authorities.
  • Key measures are education of the public about hygiene and infection control, protection of vulnerable groups, testing of symptomatic individuals, isolation of cases, contact tracing and quarantine of contacts.
  • Guidance documents for health care workers were updated and distributed.
  • Instructions for residents and travellers on how to approach the health care system when COVID-19 infection is suspected were published.
  • International airports and ports made preparations and responded as appropriate according to specific response plans already in place.
  • Health care facilities updated their response plans.
  • Restriction on social gatherings and businesses were implemented.
  • Icelandic residents (travelers) are advised against all non-essential travel.
  • Iceland has implemented travel restrictions imposed for the Schengen Area and the European Union. As of 20 March 2020, foreign nationals - except EU/EEA, EFTA or UK nationals - are not allowed to enter Iceland. This advice is valid until 15 June 2020.
  • No entry or exit screening is recommended at this time but the information on how to approach the health care system in Iceland for illness relating to the pandemic is distributed in various ways.
  • From 24 April 2020 until 15 June, all travelers to Iceland regardless of nationality are requested to observe quarantine for 14 days after arrival from risk areas.
    • Travelers will have to bear the cost of their stay during quarantine as they enter the country aware of these rules.
  • Those diagnosed with COVID-19 must be isolated and those in close contact with the diseased from 24–48 hours preceding first symptoms of illness are quarantined. Who should be quarantined is decided on a case by case basis by a special contact tracing team.
  • Those who unexpectedly need to be isolated or quarantined who do not have access to appropriate quarters in Iceland or those who for some reason cannot be isolated or quarantined at home can be housed in a quarantine facilities run by the Icelandic authorities. Determination of who can enter such facilities is made by the health care authority in each health district on a case by case basis.

 

Q. Why is there no screening for COVID-19 at the airport here?
A. Testing for the virus in people without symptoms is not effective for screening as the virus is not reliably identified before symptoms arise. Temperature measurements and questionnaires for passengers arriving from infected areas have been used in airports in various countries in previous epidemics, with little or no success. Quarantine is much more likely to successfully limit spread. Ill individuals and their contacts are also encouraged to step forward to access medical care and information on how to limit spread to others.

 

Q. Is there a lockdown on a ban on public gatherings in place?
A. There is not a lockdown in effect but there are restrictions on public gatherings and on many organized activities and businesses.

The ban on gatherings applies to organised activities where more than 50 people come together. At all smaller gatherings, it must also be ensured that at distance of at least two (2) metres is maintained between individuals.

The organised activities covered by the restriction on gatherings include the following:

  • Conferences, symposia, meetings, and similar events.
  • Recreational events such as concerts, plays, film screenings, athletic events, and private parties.
  • Religious ceremonies of any type, including funerals,weddings and confirmation ceremonies.

Businesses and activities that were closed or restricted beginning on 24 March are allowed beginning 4 May but with certain limitations:

  • Swimming pools will open to the public on 18 May under restrictions specific to them.
  • Gyms will open on 25 May.
  • Dance halls, bars and game rooms will remain closed. Lottery machines may be operated.
  • Restaurants may be open.
  • Museums and galleries are allowed to open.
  • Activities involving physical proximity such as hair salons, make-up or beauty salons, massage parlours, and other similar activities, are allowed to open.
  • Healthcare services can operate without restrictions including physiotherapy and dentistry.
  • All children’s daycare and primary schools and related sports activities are allowed. There are rules regarding spectators and accompanying adults.
  • Secondary schools and universities are open.
  • Adults’ athletic activities are allowed with restrictions.
  • The ban does not apply to international airports, international harbours, aircraft, or freightships.
  • Grocery stores and other shops are open. Larger grocery stores and drugstores may allow up to 100 people to be inside the store at the same time, provided that a distance of at least two (2) metres is maintained between individuals. Those grocery stores that are larger than 1,000 square metres (m2) in size may allow one additional customer inside for each 10 m2 over and above 1,000 m2, up to a maximum of 200 customers in all.



Q. How are school activities handled?
A. Limitations on school activities has mostly been lifted.

 

Q. When will the ban on gatherings and restrictions end?
A. The current ban on gatherings and various restrictions will remain in effect through 1 June. A new regulation will take place then unless announced earlier.

 

 

Spread of the virus and contact tracing


Q. How does the virus spread?
A. The virus spreads by person to person transmission. Contact and droplet contamination are the main pathways to spread the disease, similar to influenza. This means that there is risk of spreading the virus when a person with the disease sneezes, coughs or wipes their nose, and a non-infected person breathes in droplets from the sick person or their hands are contaminated with the virus and they then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. There seems to be some risk of spread before an infected person develops symptoms. Some people seem to have no or minimal symptoms but be infectious for 1–2 days before noticable symptoms appear. See also the answer to “What can I do to avoid infection with COVID-19?“

 

Q. Who is most likely to contract COVID-19?
A. Close contacts such as family members of persons with COVID-19 are most likely to contract the illness themselves. People who are in close contact with large numbers of people for work or leisure are also more likely to contract illness than those who associate with few others. Hand hygiene and general hygiene measures as well as physical distancing are the most important protection against infection. Certain defined groups who must respond to illnesses in others, such as police, paramedics and health care workers, are at risk and should have access to personal protective equipment to decrease their risk of contracting the disease.

 

Q. What is contact tracing?
A. Extensive contact tracing is performed to find those possibly exposed to infection because of close contact with an infected individual and those contacts are placed in home quarantine. A special contact tracing team is run by the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. Our data support this task, as over 50% of known infections are diagnosed in persons already in quarantine. This means these individuals were at home instead of being out in the community possibly exposing others to infection.



Q. What does the contact tracing mobile app Rakning C-19 do?
A. Contact tracing is complicated and it can be difficult for those infected to remember where exactly they have been and who they have been in close contact with. Therefore it was decided to design a mobile app that makes contact tracing easier.

Use of the app is contingent upon a double consent (or double opt-in) from the user. Users have to agree to both data collection and later on, if needed, to share the data.

The app utilizes GPS and information on the user´s whereabouts are only stored on the user´s mobile phone. If an app user is diagnosed with an infection and the contact tracing team needs to trace his/her whereabouts, the user will be asked to share that information with the contact tracing team. As soon as the contact tracing team requests access it will also ask for the user´s national ID so there is no question to whom the data belongs. In that way, it is guaranteed that no one has access to the information without the user´s agreement. Location data will be deleted as soon as the contact tracing team does not need it anymore.

 

 

Vaccine and treatment


Q. Is there a vaccine or antiviral treatment for this illness?
A. There are currently no vaccines against coronaviruses but several groups worldwide are in the process of development. No antiviral treatment has definitely been proven to change the course of this illness but experimental use and research on various antiviral therapies is ongoing. The results of these studies are eagerly awaited.



Q. What are the treatment options?
A. Treatment is mainly supportive, based on the patients‘ needs and symptoms although several drugs are also being used experimentally. Antibiotics do not work as they work against bacteria but SARS-CoV-2 is a virus. Drugs agains the seasonal flu (influenza) do not work in general as the influenza virus is a different type of virus, although some (e.g. favipravir) are being researched as treatment for COVID-19.

 


Symptoms and tests


Q. What are the symptoms?
A. Infections with COVID-19 present with various symptoms, many resembling those of influenza (such as cough, fever/chills, cold-like symptoms, muscle pain, fatigue, sore throat). Abdominal symptoms (abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, diarrhoea) and loss of smell and taste are reported in 20–30%. Much like influenza, some of those affected develop more severe symptoms, with breathing difficulties, occurring 4–8 days after illness starts and some patients develop bacterial pneumonia as a complication of COVID-19.



Q. Who is at risk for severe symptoms?
A. Risk groups for severe infection have not been well defined. Risk of severe infection is more among the elderly, especially after 60–70 years of age and among those that suffer from chronic conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes type 2, chronic kidney disease, obesity (BMI > 35), cancer and organ donors. See also information from The World Health Organization (WHO) and The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC ).

Some on immune suppressive treatment (ex. steroids, methotrexate, biologicals) or that suffer from immunodeficiency from other causes are possibly at increased the risk of severe COVID-19 infection. This also applies to certain chronic neurological and muscular diseases that lead to reduced coughing strength or reduced lung function.

Serious illness seems uncommon in children but information on the disease in children is sparse. However, certain long term diseases in children possibly puts them at risk of severe disease.

 

Q. I believe I am at risk of severe disease with COVID-19, what should I do?
A. Careful attention to hygiene measures when in contact with other people is vital, avoidance of travel is recommended for all, regardless of risk factors. Instructions for risk groups on how to reduce their risk of infection are available in English. If you believe more stringent precautions may be appropriate for you even in the absence of official recommendations to that effect, please contact your personal physician.

 

Q. How is testing for COVID-19 performed in Iceland?
A. Testing for the virus has been done widely, first residents returning from high risk areas and contacts of cases were prioritized but later the testing criteria were liberalized to people with various symptoms. Testing in the community is performed by the primary health care service. Testing in people without symptoms is not recommended, as the test is expected to be negative until the presentation of symptoms and may cause a false sense of security in people incubating the illness. Screening of asymptomatic individuals has, however, been conducted by deCODE Genetics in collaboration with the Directorate of Health and Landspitali.

Antibody blood tests, also called serologic tests, check your blood for antibodies that would show if you have had a previous infection. Antibodies are proteins that are part of your immune response that helps fight off germs such as bacteria and viruses. An antibody test may not be able to show if you have a current infection, because it can take 1 to 4 weeks to make antibodies after symptoms occur. We do not know yet if having antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 can protect someone from getting infected with that virus again, or how long that protection might last. Scientists are doing studies to answer those questions. The tests for antibody measurements are being validated and when they are confirmed to be reliable they will be used.

Antibody testing has started in Iceland and the tests are being validated. The Chief Epidemiologist asks individuals who are having a blood test to donate a separate sample for antibody testing. This is not a research project and people can refuse. The Chief Epidemiologist will notify those tested of their results via heilsuvera.is but not before a large group of people have been tested and the results are confirmed to be accurate. It will be advertised if and when these tests can be requested by everyone that wish to have them performed.

 

Q. I think I am ill due to COVID-19, what should I do?
A. If you have symptoms of illness, please call your local primary health care center (heilsugæsla) or phone 1700 (or +354 544 4113 if you are calling from a foreign phone number). You will be advised on precautions to prevent spreading the illness to others and how to access health care services appropriate to your degree of illness. In case of emergency call 112. Please remember to report your travel history if applicable and connection to any COVID-19 case when contacting the health care services. Please do not visit any clinic or hospital where others may also be exposed without calling ahead. While you wait for the results of the medical examination and possible testing for COVID-19, you need to be in isolation. Please review instructions for people in isolation. If you cannot avoid contact with other people please consider using a facemask, or at least cover the nose and mouth with tissue when coughing or sneezing and pay careful attention to hygiene.

 

Q. What can I do to avoid infection with COVID-19?
A.

  • Hand washing/sanitizer is most important to avoid infection. Washing with soap and water is preferred if hands are dirty, but if they appear clean but have touched common surfaces, such as doorknobs, or received items such as money or credit cards from the general public alcohol-based hand-sanitizer is useful.
  • As much as is feasible, you should avoid contact with others that appear ill, in particular those with respiratory symptoms (sneezing, coughing, runny nose).
  • Masks are most useful for those already infected to reduce droplet spread when coughing or sneezing. Masks are also used for health care workers and first responders who must tend to ill people. See more about masks here below.
  • When cleaning up after other people, for example in restaurants or public toilets, gloves may be useful, but it is of vital importance to remove gloves promptly and clean hands after the task is completed.
  • General use of gloves is not recommended. Gloves can provide a false sense of security and continued use makes it more likely that gloves become soiled and that they are not changed as needed. Proper and frequent hand washing is recommended instead in general.

 

Q. Should I use a face mask?
A. Masks can be useful, for example, if an ill individual needs to be out among others, to protect his/her surroundings for spread of droplets from sneezing or coughing. Also, if a vulnerable individual, in a high risk group, needs to be out among others and he/she wants to protect himself/herself.

Importantly, spread of the COVID-19 virus is mainly by droplets and contact contamination and therefore handwashing is the main protection against infection. It is of minimal benefit to wear a mask if you touch a contaminated surface and then e.g. touch your eye or somehow touch your mouth or nose. Also, if a mask becomes damp or wet (because of your breathing), it is not useful and therefore a mask needs to be changed regularly. It is important not to contaminate your hands when the mask is removed and to clean you hands after removing the mask.

See also Guidelines for persons at risk of severe infection from the new coronavirus (COVID-19)

 

How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask?
A.

  1. Remember, a mask should mainly be used by health workers, care takers, and individuals with respiratory symptoms, such as fever and cough.
  2. Before touching the mask, clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  3. Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes.
  4. Orient which side is the top side (where the metal strip or stiff edge is).
  5. Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards (often the coloured side).
  6. Place the mask to your face. Pinch the metal strip or stiff edge of the mask so it moulds to the shape of your nose.
  7. Pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and your chin.
  8. After use, take off the mask; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face and clothes, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask.
  9. Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use.
  10. Perform hand hygiene after touching or discarding the mask – Use alcohol-based hand rub or, if visibly soiled, wash your hands with soap and water.

 

Q. Can the COVID-19 virus live outside a host? Can the virus be contracted from packages or paper (newspapers/books/letters)?
A. In general, coronaviruses do not live long outside of a host. It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives outside a living host, but it seems to behave similar to other coronaviruses in that regard. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). The virus seems to survive longer on a cold, hard surface than on a soft surface such as card board or paper (van Doramalen, etal. NEJM 17. mars, 2020).

The postal service and companies that distribute letters, newspapers and such have instructions and guidance regarding hygiene and general infection control. The virus does not seem to survive for long on paper or plastic but exactly how long is still unclear. An infected individual would have to contaminate the paper (or book etc) with droplets and the recipient to contaminate himself/herself by touching his/her face (eyes, mouth or nose).

If you think a surface may be contaminated, clean it with soap and water or a simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

 

Q. Can I contract COVID-19 from opening packages?
A. No such cases have been reported. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low. A recent study showed that the COVID-19 virus is able to persist for up to 24 hours on cardboard, in experimental settings (e.g. controlled relative humidity and temperature (van Doramalen, et al. NEJM 17. mars, 2020).



Q. Is there a risk of COVID-19 infection from food?
A. There are no indications that the virus that causes COVID-19 is carried in produce according to the European Food Safety Authority.

 

Q. Can the virus be carried on food packaging?
A. It is very unlikely that people will contract the disease from touching contaminated packaging. It is entirely appropriate to clean hands after shopping. Please keep in mind the instructions on handwashing.

 

Q. Can the virus be carried in fresh fruit and vegetables?
A. The virus is not able to maintain itself in fruit and vegatables. It is also not likely to be found in other food items. Any surface can be contaminated with the virus from a cough or sneeze by an ill person. It is always important to rinse fruit and vegetables thoroughly before consumption and wash you hands after handling such items or any food.

 

 

Exposure for COVID-19

 

Q. What is exposure to COVID-19?
A. An individual who has been in close contact with a person ill due to COVID-19 has been exposed. Close contact means being within 1–2 meter distance from someone who is coughing or sneezing, or touching an ill person, sleeping in the same bed as an ill person, or staying in the same small room or small vehicle where someone is coughing or sneezing. Health care workers who have taken care of patients with COVID-19 may also be exposed, but as they habitually use protective equipment when taking care of patients this can mitigate their exposure and risk of illness. Symptoms of COVID-19 start within 14 days of infection, so only those who are within 14 days of their last exposure are considered at risk of illness.

 

Q. I have been exposed to COVID-19, what should I do?
A. Local transmission is occurring between individuals with or without travel history. If you have symptoms of illness, please contact your primary care center (Heilsugæsla) or the helpline at 1700 (+354 544 4113 if calling on a foreign line). Testing for the virus in people without symptoms is not recommended, as the test is expected to be negative until the presentation of symptoms and therefore a negative result in a person without symtoms is unreliable. Please do not visit any clinic or hospital where others may also be exposed without calling ahead. While you wait for the results of testing for COVID-19, you need to be in isolation.

 

 

Quarantine and isolation


Q. What is Quarantine?
A.Quarantine involves isolating a person who is asymptomatic and well but may be a carrier of infectious disease. The person could have contacted the virus while travelling or from a close contact with a COVID-19 infected individual. Individuals who develop symptoms while in quarantine should call their primary care center (Heilsugæsla) or Læknavaktin service at 1700/+354 544 4113 for further guidance. In case of an emergency call 112.



Q. How do I obtain a quarantine certificate?
A. Individuals need to be registered in quarantine to obtain a certificate thereof. An individual can be obligated to go into quarantine because of travel history or by close contact with an infected individual as decided by the contact tracing team andauthorized by the Chief Epidemiologist (article 12 of the Act on Health Security and Communicable Diseases).

Individuals who have been quarantine can obtain a certificate thereof on heilsuvera.is.

Those without access to heilsuvera.is can request a certificate of quarantine by sending an email to mottaka@landlaeknir.is (please write quarantine certificate in subject line).

 

Q. What is isolation?
A. Persons who are ill with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 would be placed in isolation, in or out of hospital. Isolation applies as well while waiting for test results.

The authority of the Chief Epidemiologist to implement isolation is layed out in article 12 of the Act on Health Security and Communicable Diseases.



Q. How do I obtain a certificate of isolation?
A. certificate/letter regarding isolation needs to be obtained from a doctor, typically the COVID-19 team at the Landspitali University Hospital.



Q. Is there a Helpline for individuals in quarantine or isolation?
A. Regarding clinical questions or health care service contact primary care service at heilsuvera.is or call 1700/+354 544 4113. The Red Cross will assist those who require help with acquiring necessities during quarantine and isolation. Any person in quarantine or isolation can contact the Red Cross Helpline at 1717 (+354 580 1710 from foreign numbers) or by webchat at www.1717.is. You can request assistance or information, seek support, or enjoy a confidential conversation. The Helpline is open 24/7 and free of charge.



Q. Can people who are in quarantine in different households continue to interact?
A. No. This practice will prolong the quarantine as more people in the group fall ill and possibly increase the risk of severe illness in those exposed repeatedly or continuously, a phenomenon known to occur with chickenpox and certain other viral diseases.



Q. What are the discharge criteria after COVID-19 infection?
A. Physicians in the COVID-19 team at Landspitali University Hospital decide and discharge patients from isolation through a phone interview. Individuals have to confirm that they fullfill the following criteria:

  • At least 14 days have passed since a positive test result (diagnostic test)
  • At least 7 days of no symptoms

In addition, all individuals are instructed to pay particular attention to general hygiene and handwashing for 2 weeks after discharge. They should also for at least 2 weeks avoid close contact with vulnerable individuals who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection such as the elderly and people with certain underlying health conditions.

Special cases:

  • Asymptomatic individuals (e.g. diagnosed through screening): Individuals must be afebrile without any symptoms of illness, lethargy, aches, cough, shortness of breath or runny nose for 7 days, and at least 14 days must have passed since a positive test result.
  • Cohabitants together in quarantine and isolation: Quarantine of a cohabitant of an individual in isolation can be lifted if at least 14 days have passed since last exposure of the infected individual (involving direct touch, close proximity, sharing a bathroom or face-to-face contact within 1–2 meters for at least 15 minutes). This applies to all individuals living together, including children.
  • Cohabitants all in isolation together: When the first individual has recovered, he/she can be discharged (as above) with the condition that the other affected individuals continue isolation towards the discharged person and others. If the discharged person cannot be separated from the still affected individuals, they should all remain together and the isolation then not lifted until the last person is discharged. It is important that all members of the household adhere to strict personal hygiene and thouroughly clean the house before isolation is lifted. This applies to all individuals living together, including children.
  • Health care staff: Same rules apply as for others. However, special consideration must be taken regarding certain job descriptions involving vulnerable populations. Physician and supervisor will consider this on a case by case basis.

 

 

Travel


Q. I have been travelling, could I have been exposed to COVID-19?
A. All travelers to Iceland should observe quarantine for 14 days after arrival. See instructions for home quarantine for guiadance and howto register for quarantine at heilsuvera.is or through your primary care center (Heilsugæsla). Shortterm travelers who do not reside in Iceland, tourists and business travelers, are registered using the Information on Place of Residence form on arrival.

COVID-19 cases on flights can prompt quarantine of those seated closest or even the entire crew and all passengers in certain situations. Decisions regarding quarantine in this situation are made on a case by case (flight by flight) basis.

 

Q. I have booked a trip abroad, should I cancel it?
A. The chief epidemiologist advises against all unnecessary travel. It is not possible to predict with certainty the developments in other areas and individuals must make their own decisions according to their personal health or other concerns.The authorities have also especially requested that health care personnel and first responders postpone travel for the timebeing.

 

Q. Can I use public transport from Keflavik Airport (domestic flights/public bus/taxi) after arrival from abroad?
A. All travelers to Iceland that enter the country are obligated to go into 14 days of quarantine, regardless of where they are arriving from. Quarantine should start after landing in Iceland and in general, public transport should not be used. Flights are necessary to come to Iceland but individuals are asked after arrival not to use public transport and avoid physical contact with others as much as possible.

It is preferable to drive yourself rather than take a bus, taxi or domestic flight. If you become symptomatic within a day or two from arriving the contact tracing team would trace your contacts for the previous day. The whole bus would go into quarantine if you go by bus. However, air circulation in airplanes is of different quality and more effective so those in 2 seatrows in front and back of you would need to go into quarantine. If you travel by car, anyone else travelling with you would go into quarantine.

If you are in quarantine but do not have a private car at the airport, relatives or friends could perhaps bring a car for you to the airport (drive two cars there and leave one behind with the keys). Or you could use a rent-a-car. Please notify the car rental that you are in quarantine so they are aware. Taxis operate under specific rules and people in quarantine are allowed to use them.

 

Q. I am in quarantine and need to stay overnight in Reykjavik before I head home, what do I do? Also, can I stay in quarantine with my family/relatives?
A. Some hotels are offering lodgding for people in quarantine. You would need to contact them and ask and this would be your own responsibility. People in quarantine can interact with family but interactions should be limited and certain precautions should be taken as listed in the instructions. Short term travelers, tourists and business travelers, should stay in one location that is registered on arrival. Quarantined individual must not leave their home/location unless necessary, e.g. to seek necessary health care services, after consulting with a primary care clinic or the helpline 1700 (+354 544 4113) or in case of emergency 112. Please notify the responder of the quarantine.

 

 

Pets/domestic animals


Q. Is there a risk of COVID-19 infection from pets and domestic animals?
A. The virus is thought to have originated in animals, likely bats, but is now fully adapted to humans and is primarily a public health problem for humans, not animals. There are no reports of COVID-19 spreading from pets or domestic animals to humans. There are isolated cases of the virus being diagnosed in pet dogs and cats that showed no or minimal symptoms. Most likely those animals caught the virus from their owners. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority will continue to monitor new information on this matter.

 

Q. Can pets stay with COVID-19 patients in isolation?
A. There is no reason not to continue to enjoy the company of pets while in isolation and pets can provide important support in difficult times. It is always a good habit to clean hands after contact with animals and dogs should not generally be allowed to lick people’s faces. Walking the dog is possible while in quarantine and possibly while in isolation in certain circumstances, but careful attention should be paid to limit the risk of contact with others.

 

Q. Can I take care of the pet for someone in isolation or quarantine for COVID-19?
A. Yes, you can care for pets for people in isolation or quarantine who cannot do it themselves, but it is important to observe good hygiene practices. Avoid letting pets lick your face or hands and wash your hands after contact with animals.

 

Q. Should people returning from abroad avoid contact with animals?
A. All travelers returning from abroad must quarantine for 14 days. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority recommends that people avoid contact with food-producing domestic animals in or around their home while in isolation or quarantine. It is also important to remember, that after contact with animals in foreign countries contact with food-producing animals in Iceland should be deferred for 48 hours.

Additional Q&A regarding animals and COVID-19 can be found in Icelandic on the website for the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority and in English on the WHO website.

 

The Chief Epidemiologist is monitoring the situation closely and will update and add new information to this site as indicated.


Fyrst birt 24.01.2020
Síðast uppfært 11.05.2020

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