Questions and answers regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

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. So far COVID-19 seems to have significantly lower mortality associated with it than MERS or SARS.

 

Q.  What is known about this new virus and related outbreak at this stage?

A. The epidemic is caused by a coronavirus not previously found in humans. The virus islosely related to SARS coronavirus and is called SARS-CoV-2, and the illness it causes is called COVID-19. This virus is not as deadly as SARS or MERS, which had death rates of 10% and 35% respectively, but this new virus seems much more contagious and has already had a greater impact in the world than the SARS epidemic.

The origin of COVID-19 seems to be in Wuhan city in China and most early cases had connections to certain markets specializing in animal products in that city. 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. What are the response measures undertaken in Iceland?

A. The official response in Iceland is decided by to the threat posed by COVID-19 according to the current reliable information available:

  • The current response phase for Iceland due to COVID-19 is EMERGENCY PHASE
  • Preparations in Iceland are made according to the response plans generated by the chief epidemiologist and the civil protection authorities
  • Guidance documents for health care workers have been updated and distributed
  • Instructions for the Icelandic public and travellers on how to approach the health care system when COVID-19 infection is suspected have been published.
  • International airports in Iceland have made preparations and respond as appropriate according to specific response plans already in place, as will ports.
  • Health care facilities have updated their response plans.
  • Icelandic residents (travellers) are advised against all non-essential travel to risk areas.
  • Iceland has implemented the 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 17 April 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 epidemic is distributed in various ways.
  • Inhabitants of Iceland regardless of nationality are requested to observe quarantine for 14 days after arrival from any area before rejoining Icelandic society.
  • People diagnosed with COVID-19 must be isolated and contacts are quarantined if they have been in close contact within 24-48 hours of the first symptoms of illness. Instructions for those who should be quarantined are issued on a case by case basis.
  • Those who 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 facility 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. Is there a lockdown on a ban on public gatherings in place?

There is no lockdown in effect but there is a ban on public gatherings and restrictions have been placed on many organized activities and businesses.

What does the ban on gatherings means?
The ban on gatherings applies to organised activities where more than 20 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 ban 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, confirmation ceremonies, and other religious gatherings.

The following activities are prohibited and will be closed beginning on Tuesday 24 March:

  • Swimming pools, gyms, dance halls and bars, game rooms, lottery machines, and museums and galleries.
  • Activities where people are physically close to one another are prohibited. This includes hair salons, other make-up or beauty salons, massage parlours, and other similar activities.
  • Physiotherapy that is important for rehabilitation is allowed, provided that aggressive hygiene measures are strictly followed.
  • All children’s and adults’ athletic activities are prohibited.

Certain exeception apply to essential services such as related to healthcare services, medical transport, law enforcement, firefighting, transportation, electricity, and telecommunications.

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 1,000square 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 will school activities be handled?

There are significant limitations on school activities. In many cases, students cannot attend school but will pursue their studies via distance learning. In other cases, strict requirements are set concerning the permissible number of students and the minimum distance between them.

The restrictions apply to pre-schools, primary schools, upper secondary schools (high schools),and universities, but they also apply to other educational institutions,recreation centres, community centres, and athletic activities.

  • Upper secondary school buildings and university buildings are closed, and instruction takes place via distance learning to the extent possible.
  • Primary schools may carry out instruction in school buildings if they guarantee that no more than 20 students are in the same classroom and that students do not mix with other groups; for instance, in cafeterias or at recess. Furthermore, the school buildings must be cleaned or disinfected after each day.
  • Pre-schools may remain open and continue their activities if they guarantee that children are in small groups and kept separate as much as possible. Furthermore, the pre-school buildings must be cleaned or disinfected after each day.
  • All children’s and young people’s athletic and youth group activities involving groups mixing with one another, close proximity between people, or physical contact are suspended.
  • Schoolmates who are not in the same group in school (the same class) should not interactc losely outside of school; see the Guidelines on children and the ban on gatherings.

 

Q. What is not included in the ban on gatherings?

The ban does not apply to international airports, international harbours, aircraft, or ships.

 

Q. When will the ban on gatherings end?

The ban on gatherings will remain in effect through 3 May, but it will be reviewed if necessary.

 

What is contact tracing?

Extensive measures have been implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection. A key focus is to detect infection early, isolate infected individuals and to quarantine close contacts of cases. Early on the public was educated about hygiene and infection control and emphasis was placed on protecting the elderly and other high-risk groups. Later on, a restriction on public gatherings and various businesses was instituted to further prevent spread.

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 roughly 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.

 

What does a new contact tracing mobile app do?

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. Such apps have been helpful in South Korea and Singapore.

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.

 

Q.  Is there a vaccine or antiviral treatment for this illness?

A. There are currently no vaccines against coronaviruses. No antiviral treatment has been proven to change the course of this illness but several studies of various antiviral therapies are ongoing. The results of these studies are eagerly awaited globally.

 

Q. What are the treatment options?

A. Treatment is supportive, based on the patients‘ needs and symptoms.

 

Q. What are the symptoms?

A. Infections with COVID-19 present with symptoms resembling those of influenza (such as cough, fever, cold-like symptoms, muscle pain, fatigue, sore throat). Abdominal symptoms (abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, diarrhoea) are not very prominent with COVID-19 but have been described. Also loss of smell and taste has been reported. Much like influenza, some of those affected develop more severe symptoms, with breathing difficulties, occurring 4–8 days after illness starts.

 

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 illnesses than those who associate with few others. Hand hygiene and general hygiene measures are the most important protection for these groups against infection.
Certain defined groups who must respond to illnesses in others, such as police, paramedics and health care workers should have access to personal protective equipment to decrease their risk of contracting the disease.

 

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 50-60 years of age and among those that suffer from chronic conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or cancer. At this time it is unknown whether immune suppressive treatment (ex. steroids, methotrexate, biologicals) increases the risk of severe COVID-19 infection. Serious illness seems uncommon in children but information on the disease in children is sparse.

 

Q. Are children particularly vulnerable?

A. Children of all ages have been infected with the virus but Sserious illness seems uncommon in children although but 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, there were 731 (34.1%) laboratory-confirmed cases and 1412 (65.9%) suspected cases. 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. Due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that 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 possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to their healthcare provider. 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. 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. Cases relating to pregnant women in China and in Europe have been described but these are fairly few. The most important information that has been stated in  articles from China is that the virus does not appear to infect the foetus during the third trimester. If new information comes to light, it will be added to this section.

 

Q. Is it possible to diagnose COVID-19 infection in Iceland?

A. Yes. The test is available here. 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 may cause a false sense of security in people incubating the illness. Screening of asymptomatic individuals is being conducted by Decode Genetics in collaboration with the Directorate of Health and Lanspitali.

 

Q. What about human-to-human transmission?

A. The virus spreads by person to person transmission. Contact and droplet contamination 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. The risk of spread before an infected person develops symptoms is not confirmed, however some people have minimal symptoms but may be contagious. See also the answer to “What can I do to avoid infection with COVID-19?”

 

Q. What is the risk of this outbreak spreading further?

A. Most continents have reported imported cases and the infection has spread rapidly, notably in Europe. In Iceland although the first cases arrived here with people returning home after travel abroad there is now spread in the community. Several measures are in place to prevent further spread and to protect vulnerable populations.

 

Q. Why are residents of Iceland advised to observe quarantine after travel but tourists are not?

A.

  • Inhabitants of Iceland who participate in Icelandic society are in contact with many more people in the community and therefore pose a higher risk for spreading disease here than visitors who are here only for a few days. This applies regardless of nationality for residents in Iceland.
  • Foreign nationals who are travelling here and become ill or who have been in contact with persons with COVID-19 will be placed in quarantine or isolation by the civil protection authorities.

 

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. 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 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 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?

  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 I contract COVID-19 from opening packages?

A. No. 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). In practice however there is no evidence of the infection ever being transmitted through contaminated packages (van Doramalen, et al. NEJM 17. mars, 2020).

 

Can the COVID-19 virus live outside a host? Can the virus be contracted from paper (newspapers/books/letters)?

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives outside a living host, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or 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 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 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. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

 

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 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.

 

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.  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 with cough/sneeze 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. What is Quarantine?

A.Quarantine involves isolating a person who is asymptomatic and well but may be a carrier of contagious disease. The person could have contacted the virus while travelling or from a close contact with a COVID-19 infected individual. Individuals who devlop symtpoms while in quarantine should call their primary care center (Heilsugaesla) or Laeknavaktin 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 he/she has been placed into quarantine by the primary care service or the contact tracing team, as authorized by the Chief Epidemiologist as layed out in article 12 of the Act on Health Security and Communicable Diseases.

  • Individuals in quarantine can register on heilsuvera.is and obtain a certificate there as well.
  • For those without access to heilsuvera.is registration is done through their primary care center (Heilsugæsla)
  • When registration is complete 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 your doctor.

 

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. I have been travelling, could I have been exposed to COVID-19?

A. People who live in Iceland and have been travelling in the past 14 days are considered at risk and should observe quarantine. They should contact the helpline at 1700/+354 544 4113 for further guidance. 24 hours stay is considered a stay in an area.. 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. Please be advised that the defined risk areas can change, but the link above should always refer to the most recent information available to the chief epidemiologist.

 

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. 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 when community transmission becomes widespread have been issued and 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.  I have been exposed to COVID-19, what should I do?

A. Local transmission is occurring betweenindividuals with or without travel history. If you have symptoms of illness, please contact 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.

 

Q. I think I am ill due to COVID-19, what should I do?

A. If you have symptoms of illness, please call 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 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, 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. 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. Is there a risk of COVID-19 infection from or illness in 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 illness or virus shedding in domestic animals or pets related to SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority will continue to monitor new information on this matter and the information in this section will be updated as appropriate.

 

What are the discharge criteria after COVID-19 infection?

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).
  • 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.
  • 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. 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. Quarantine is recommended for Icelandic residents returning from abroad 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.

 

Can I use public transport from Keflavik Airport (domestic flights/public bus/taxi) after arrival from abroad?

Note, tourists who are not residents of Iceland and travelling short-term in Iceland do not need to to into quarantine and they can therefore use public transport.

All residents of 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.

 

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 famil/relatives?

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.

 

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 05.04.2020

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