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26 Mar 2020 | 10:16 AM UTC

Iceland: Country confirms first COVID-19 death March 24 /update 1

Iceland confirms first COVID-19-related death March 24; new domestic restrictions in place

health
ISL

Event

On Tuesday, March 24, Icelandic health authorities confirmed the country's first coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related death. The patient was a 70-year-old woman who had also been suffering from a chronic illness.

On Monday, March 23, authorities announced a ban on all gatherings of more than 20 people, including in workplaces and at public meetings. Grocery stores and pharmacies are exempt from these restrictions, but no more than 100 customers will be allowed inside at one time and they must remain at least 2 m (6.5 ft) apart. The government also closed all swimming pools, museums, and entertainment venues nationwide; universities and high schools have been closed since March 16.

To date, there have been over 800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iceland. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.