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Iceland Has Succeeded In Battle Against COVID-19

Winter storms isolated the Hvammastangi village from the rest of Iceland and then spring bought the novel coronavirus and isolated the locals from each other. But now as summer is approaching, local villagers are hoping their life is getting back to a normal routine.

Hair salons, dentists, schools, institutes and other businesses across the country are reopening on Monday after the lockdown of six weeks. After this, Iceland managed to control its COVID-19 outbreak. North Atlantic nation has confirmed 1,799 cases of novel coronavirus but only 10 deaths were reported. The rate of new cases has fallen each day from 106 at the peak of the coronavirus outbreak to single digits even zero on some days.

Chief epidemiologist of Iceland, Thoroflur Gudnason said that he didn’t expect this fast kind of recovery. The country’ success in taming the novel coronavirus outbreak is partly a testament to its small population, only 360,000 people. This also reflects the unity and decisive action by its authorities. The authorities used the rigorous testing policy and strict tracking for finding the infected people. They isolated the infected people even when had no shown any symptoms.

That has helped Iceland climate the pandemic without turning to the complete social and financial shutdowns as implemented in numerous other European nations. Infected individuals and their contacts were isolated; however, the rest of the population was not compelled to stay inside, just to be cautious.

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A volcanic island nudging the Arctic Circle, Iceland may be remote, but it is far from isolated. The Keflavik Airport of Iceland is a trans-Atlantic hub, and its countrymen are enthusiastic travellers. As in many other European countries, some of the first cases of COVID-19 in Iceland were brought back from Alps ski resorts, including the Austrian village of Ischgl.

The key to their success was early vigilance. Iceland confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus on 28th February and declared Ischgl a high-risk area on 5th March, just two days before its authorities confirmed the country’s first case.

Gudnason said that since 2004, Iceland had been updating and testing its response to the global pandemic. Hospitals had been regularly testing travellers coming back from abroad for a month before the first novel coronavirus confirmed case, and different media campaigns raised awareness and urged people to wash hands and maintain social distancing. He added that each institute involved in the response towards COVID-19 knew its role from the beginning.

Authorities quarantined those returning from the novel coronavirus hotspots and started testings and tracing measures to locate and isolate every suspected case. Other bigger countries like Britain adopted the same approach, at first. But the United Kingdom abandoned testing and tracing in March as the number of novel coronavirus cases overwhelmed their testing capacity. Over a month later and with almost 30,000 reported deaths, the U.K. is scrambling for resuming testing and tracing as part of country’s route out of national lockdown.

Iceland managed to test almost 50,000 individuals and more than 13 per cent of the population over a period of six weeks, the biggest chunk of any country worldwide. Iceland’s testing yielded new leads for researchers about how the novel coronavirus behaves. Early findings suggested 0.6 per cent of the population were the silent carriers of COVID-19 with mild or no symptoms.

DeCODE did not test people who were already feeling sick or in quarantine and who were tested in hospitals. The company utilized its facilities for testing a cross-section of the population and identified the number of new cases of a novel coronavirus, including people with no or mild symptoms.

DeCODE’s ebullient CEO Kari Stefansson, said the approach showed that with the modern science, even the epidemic like this one can be controlled.

Amna Rana

Amna Rana, a writing enthusiast and a microbiologist. Her areas of interest are medical and health care. She writes about diseases, treatments, alternative therapies, lifestyles and the latest news. You can find her on Linkedin Amna Rana.

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