Icelandic authorities announced on Tuesday, April 4, that restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) will be gradually relaxed from Monday, May 4. High school, universities, and museums are set to reopen. Businesses which involve close physical contact with customers, such as hairdressers and beauty salons, will also reopen but will need to ensure 2 m (6.5 ft) distancing between individuals. Health services, including dentistry, will resume, except for optional surgery and invasive procedures. While a limit on the number of people who can gather remains in place, the number will be raised from 20 people to 50. 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. Swimming pools and fitness centres will remain closed; restrictions on places of entertainment including pubs and clubs will continue. The government added that restrictions will be lifted further if the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continues to fall.
To date, there have been at least 1720 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iceland, including eight fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
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.
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.