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 is not as deadly as SARS or MERS, which have death rates of 10% and 35% respectively, but the SARS-CoV-2virus 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 is uncommon in children.

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. Current information does not 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.

Pregnant women are adviced to contact their primary care center, at, midwife or other health care provider for further guidance. 



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.
  • Information on current restrictions see 
  • 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.
  • From 24 April 2020 until 15 June, all travelers to Iceland regardless of nationality were requested to observe quarantine for 14 days after arrival from risk areas.
  • On 15 June screening for COVID-19 on arrival passangers started. Currently travellers can choose 2 tests and a short quarantine in beteween tests, or 14-day quarantine (duration of stay if stay is shorter). See 
  • For those that choose testing, the first test is at the border on arrival and the second test is 5 days later (e.g. if the first test is on a Wednesday the second test is on the following Monday). In between the tests rules of quarantine need to be followed.
  • Travelers in quarantine will have to bear the cost of their stay during quarantine as they enter the country aware of these rules.
  • Information on how to approach the health care system in Iceland for illness relating to the pandemic is distributed in various ways.
  • Those diagnosed wit COVID-19 must isolate and those in close contact with the diseased from 24–48 hours preceding first symptoms of illness (or diagnosis if asymptomatic) need to quarantine. Who should be quarantined is decided on a case by case basis by a the contact tracing team of the Department of Civil Protection and the Chief Epidemiologist.
  • 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 screening for COVID-19 at the airport here?
A. Testing for the virus in people without symptoms is not a guarantee of no infection since the virus is not always detected before symptoms arise. However, if no virus is found in an asymptomatic individual he/she is most likely not infected. Easing of travel restrictions took effect on 15 June and arrival passengers can opt for PCR-testing and short quarantine instead of quarantine for 14 days. If 2 tests are negative then quarantine is lifted. Arrival passengers need to pre-register online ( and there they will also choose whether they prefer testing or quarantine upon arrival. Certificates of previous infection or testing from abroad is not accepted at this time. However, those that have a confirmed previous infection diagnosed in Iceland are exempted from screening and quarantine. Temperature measurements and questionnaires for passengers arriving from infected areas are not used as thsoe have been used in airports in various countries in previous epidemics, with little or no success.


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. More inforrmation


Q. How are school activities handled?
A. Schools are open with restrictions especially at the older levels.


Q. When will the ban on gatherings and restrictions end?
A. The current ban on gatherings is in effect for 2–3 weeks, or until a new one is announced.


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 is risk of spread before an infected person develops symptoms aspeople with no or minimal symptoms can 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. Masks should be used in certain situations where distancing is not possible. 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. Close contact is e.g. touching, face-to-face contact within 2 meters for 15 minutes or more, or being in proximity to an infectous individual in an enclosed area such as an airplane, bus, car or a room. 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 have been 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.


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 1 and 2, chronic kidney disease, obesity (BMI > 35), cancer and organ recipients. See also information from The World Health Organization (WHO) and The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC ).

Individuals in at-risk groups should continue to be in contact with their primary care physician or specialist to discuss their risk of severe illness.

Some individuals on immune suppressive treatment (ex. steroids, methotrexate, biologicals) or that suffer from immunodeficiency from other causes do not seem to be more susceptible to COVID-19 infection or at increased risk of severe illness when infected.. There is no indication that patients with neurologic diseases are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 including those that are on immunosuppressive therapy. This also applies in general to chronic neurological and muscular diseases.Serious illness is uncommon in children. 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 often negative until the presentation of symptoms and may cause a false sense of security in people incubating the illness. Screening of asymptomatic individuals was, however, conducted by deCODE Genetics in collaboration with the Directorate of Health and Landspitali as a special project during the epidemic and revelaed that less than 1% of the population harbored the virus

Now passengers are screeened on arrival to the country as an option to quarantine. See details of the processes here.

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 fully from getting infected with that virus again, or how long that protection might last. Scientists are doing studies to answer those questions. However, research in Iceland has shown a sustained immune response for 4 months after infection and further studies are being carried out. In that study about 91% of people had measureable antibodies in their serum after COVID-19 infection. That does not mean the 9% were not protected by their immune system since our bodies immune response is both amhumoral response (measured antibodies) and cellular response. Re-infection with SARS-CoV-2 seems extremely reare since only a few cases of re-infection have been reported world-wide. 


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?

  • 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. However, masks could also offer some protection it has been shown so they are now recommended in situations where a 2 metre distance cannot be kept. Masks are also essentialfor 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. Masks are now recommended in certain circumstances where the 2 metre distance cannot be adhered to, such as during certain services as well as onboard buses, flightsand at the airport.

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 (disposable masks should be used no more than 4 hours but less if become damp, cloth masks should be changed and washed at least daily). 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?

  1. A mask shis used by health workers, care takers, and individuals with respiratory symptoms, such as fever and cough as well as under certain circumstances if the 2 metre distance cannot be kept.
  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. Note if you touch your mask your hands are contaminated.


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). In other experimental settings viral material has been found after several hours but that does not mean the viral material is infectious.

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 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

Those without access to can request a certificate of quarantine by sending an email to (please write quarantine certificate in subject line). Parents in quarantine with a child who was oblicated into quarantine can obtain a certificate without being registered themselves in quarantine.


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 can be obtained from (you need electroinic ID), or otherwise from 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 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 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. The COVID-19 team at Landspitali University Hospital decides and discharges 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.
In instances where the above criteria are not clear repeated swabs for diagnosis of the virus, or antibody testing, might be required. If repeated viral swabs are negative or antibodies are present then contact with vulnerable populations is not prohibited

Special cases:

  • Individuals who are generally healthy and who have no or mild symptoms the entire time can be discharged when 10 days have passed from the confirmation of disease and they have been completely symptom-free for 3 days.
  • Asymptomatic individuals: Individuals must be afebrile without any symptoms of illness, lethargy, aches, cough, shortness of breath or runny nose.
  • Cohabitants together in quarantine and isolation: Quarantine of a cohabitant of an individual in isolation can be lifted at the same time as per the decision of the Landspitali Covid team. The individual in quarantine then needs to undergo a screening test to lift the quarantine. The quarantine is lifted if the test is negative. This applies to all individuals living together, including children.
  • Special circumstances of cohabitants in quarantine and isolation, if the individuals are totally separated in the household, i.e. on separate floors or at least separate bedroom/bathroom or strict cleaning/disinfecting of common areas then the household member in quarantine can undergo testing after 7 days from beginning of isolation of the infected person and quarantine lifted if the test is negative. The Landspitali Covid team makes the decision in this matter.
  • 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. 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.



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 unless they choose to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival. See information for travellers to Iceland.

See also instructions for home quarantine for guiadance if that applies.  Note that all arrival passengers need to pre-register online at Testing involves a test on arrival at the border and a second test 5 days later with quarantine in between. If the second test is negative then quarantine is lifted. For example, if the first test is on Wednesday then the second test is on Monday.

COVID-19 cases on flights can prompt quarantine of those seated closest (1 seat on either side of an infectious individual) and sometimes crew and other passengers in certain situations. Decisions regarding quarantine in this situation are made on a case by case (flight by flight) basis by the contact tracing team..


Q. I have booked a trip abroad, should I cancel it?
A. The chief epidemiologist advises against all unnecessary travel abroad. 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 limit travel for the timebeing.


Q. Can I use public transport from Keflavik Airport (domestic flights/public bus/taxi) after arrival from abroad?
A. Travelers to Iceland that enter the country from high-risk areas are obligated to undergo testing and short quarantine for COVID-19 upon arrival or else go into 14 days of quarantine (or duration of their stay if shorter). Here is a list of high-risk areas. Passengers awaiting test results are in quarantine until they have their results of the second test. If the second test is negative (no virus found) then no quarantine is needed. If the the test is positive (virus found) then further tests are offered to see if this is an active infection. For those in quarantine, then quarantine starts after landing in Iceland and, in general, public transport can not be used. Flights are necessary to come to Iceland. The fly bus is operating and can be used. Taxi and rental car can also be used to get to the location of quarantine. Domestic flight cannot be used in quarantine.

It is preferable to drive yourself rather than take a bus or taxi. If you become symptomatic within a day or two from arriving and you have an active infection then 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 onboard interanational flights is of different quality and more effective so those next to 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 or taxi. 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.


What do I do after I get tested for COVID-19 on arrival?
Please be careful until you receive your test results, which should be within 24-36 hours arriving. If you don´t receive information within 36 hours the results are negative. Positive results are always announced by a phone call. Stay at home or your registered location and avoid close contact with other people. Wash your hands regularly and avoid public transport. Please have your phone open and be ready to receive calls or messages on the results of the COVID-19 test. If you have questions please use web chat on

If your test result is negative, you should nevertheless be careful for the first 14 days since the results do not guarantee no infection. If you get ill and symptoms indicate COVID-19, you need to stay in place and arrange another test at the next local health care facility. Common symptoms are fever ≥ 38,5°C, aches and pains, dry cough, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, nausea, possibly vomiting and diarrhoea.

If your test result is positive, you have to avoid all contact with others and go into isolation until further tests have been done. You will receive a phone call from the COVID out-patient ward of the National Hospital (Landspitali) and you will be invited to a consultation and a blood test. This will provide information as to whether you are infectious and need to stay in isolation for 14 days or whether you are free to continue your travels, with appropriate caution.

Please make sure that you download the app Rakning C-19, available through The app will assist the authorities in cases of infection if necessary. The app also contains information about the healthcare system in Iceland and important tips for your safety.

If you have any concerns about your health, you can dial 1700 or, if calling from a foreign phone number, +354 544 4113.


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 although it is allowed to stay one night close to the border on your way to your location of quarantine. 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. It is allowed to travel from quarantine location to and from second border screening.



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.

Q. Can wild animals in Iceland carry COVID-19?
The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 has not been found in animals in Iceland, neither pets or wild animals.
Minks are susceptible to the virus but the chance of transmission of infection to wild mink is small if contact with humans is limited.

Can individuals with COVID-19 or in quarantine work in mink farms?
Individuals with confirmed COVID-19 are required to isolate. Workers in mink farms, who have history of infection, should still take precautions and not feed the animals or otherwise attend to minks. Both to protect themselves and to minimize risk of infection. Individuals in quarantine due to possible exposure who are asymptomatic need to adhere to rules of quarantine. If there is a suspicion of a COVID-19 infection in a mink, e.g. due to respiratory symptoms or unexplained deaths, a vet should be called and MAST notified.

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 09.11.2020

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