Iceland tightens screws amid COVID-19 surge

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Iceland announced on Saturday evening to toughen measures intended to counter the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases since mid-September.

As of Monday and like in spring, sports halls, bars and nightclubs will be closed again. Gatherings of more than 20 people will be banned for “two to three weeks,” the health ministry also wrote.

“In recent days, the daily number of newly diagnosed people has been relatively stable, around 30 to 40 individuals per day, and it is therefore clear that current measures have failed to provide adequate control of the epidemic.” , said the chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason in a note addressed to the Minister of Health.

So far, Icelandic health authorities have chosen targeted restrictions and insisted on general hygiene and physical distancing measures.

This turnaround comes after the announcement this week of contamination in two retirement homes in the Icelandic capital and the increase in hospitalizations, multiplied by nearly seven in one week.

“The hospital is not as well prepared to cope with an influx of patients as it was in the spring,” Pall Matthiasson, director of the University Hospital of Iceland, noted in a letter to staff and published on the establishment’s website on Friday.

Exceptions to the new rules, supermarkets will be able to accommodate up to 100 people and swimming pools, which had been closed in the spring, can be operated at 50% of their normal capacity.

Some 663 new coronavirus infections have been diagnosed on the subarctic island over the past 19 days, mainly in the capital Reykjavik and its surroundings.

Iceland, with a population of 365,000, has a total of 2,872 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the epidemic and 10 deaths.

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