New Zealand has received a lot of praise recently for its successful efforts in virtually eliminating the coronavirus. Iceland, however, has flown somewhat under the radar, enjoying equally significant success in its fight against the virus. With only two new cases confirmed last week and 97 percent of infected patients recovered, the country has nearly extinguished the spread domestically.
Iceland went into lockdown in early March after seeing its first confirmed cases, closing schools, banning large gatherings, and most importantly, introducing a widespread testing and tracing strategy. The country has tested 15 percent of its total population, more than almost any other country. These measures allowed the country to partially reopen in mid-April, and since then, there has been no evidence of an uptick in cases.
According to the Icelandic government, “57% of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 were already isolated in quarantine when they were diagnosed, which is believed to underline the effectiveness of those measures in combating the spread of the virus.”
In total, 1,799 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Iceland. Although many restrictions are being relaxed, social distancing measures will remain in place until there are definitive signs that the virus has been completely eliminated.
“We have been pleasantly surprised to see a very fast deceleration of the pandemic in Iceland,” said Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason in a statement. “However, it is extremely important to remain vigilant and minimize the risk of a renewed outbreak.”