Iceland is among the world’s happiest countries. Its ability to protect natural surroundings sets a precedent for other countries to follow. Now, it has added another feature to its cap.
Iceland is effectively handling the coronavirus situation without imposing a complete lockdown.
Experts are talking about the importance of comprehensive testing. This island-nation of 360,000 is doing just that.
Iceland has tested nearly 5% of its population. And while its National University Hospital tests people who are high-risk or show symptoms, nearly half of Iceland’s tests have been conducted by biopharma company deCODE Genetics, focusing on the wider population.
Crucially, deCODE’s “screening program accepts everybody who is not showing symptoms and not currently in quarantine,” Iceland’s Directorate of Health said in a statement, adding that Iceland-based company was doing it on the behalf of the Chief Epidemiologist and the health agency.
DeCODE, a subsidiary of US biotech company Amgen, has so far tested about 9,000 self-selected people.
“The results of the additional tests performed by deCODE have given an indication that efforts to limit the spread of the virus have been effective so far,” the government wrote last week, adding “testing in the general population will continue to elicit a much clearer picture of the actual spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Iceland.”
- Fewer than 1% of the tests came back positive for the virus
- 50% of those who tested positive said they were asymptomatic
- This confirms that asymptomatic, or mildly symptomatic, people have played an important role in spreading the virus.
Iceland has yet to take many of the draconian measures seen across Europe and Asia of state-wide lockdowns, though the island country has banned gatherings of 20 people or more and closed secondary and tertiary schools.
Officials say more restrictive measures haven’t been needed because they were better prepared and armed with data to track the virus.