Iceland has managed to handle the COVID-19 pandemic pretty admirably over the past two years. With a population of just over 366,000 people, 78% of those have been fully vaccinated. Even with 123,373 infections being officially noted (with a similar number being unreported), the death rate has been extremely low at a mere 61 people over the past two years.
At an average rate of just 5 deaths per 100,000 people (by official numbers), Iceland’s Minister of Health, Willum Þór Þórsson, decided that all COVID-19 restrictions within the country and at the border are to be dropped on February 25, 2022. This means that all rules regarding limitations on social gatherings and school operations as well as the quarantine requirement for those infected by COVID-19 are removed. Additionally, no disease prevention measures will be in place at the border, regardless of whether individuals are vaccinated or unvaccinated. The Minister still recommends practicing personal safety measures and avoiding people who are obviously sick.
“We can truly rejoice at this turning-point, but nonetheless I encourage people to be careful, practice personal infection prevention measures and not to interact with others if they notice symptoms”, said the Minister of Health.
The Minister noted that even with a sharp increase in infections, they did not note an increase in serious illness, and even recommend that the way out of COVID-19 would be through herd immunity.
“Widespread societal resistance to COVID-19 is the main route out of the epidemic. To achieve this, as many people as possible need to be infected with the virus as the vaccines are not enough, even though they provide good protection against serious illness.”
While the Minister did not say that people should purposely aim to get infected, it seems that herd immunity might be the only way to really deal with the virus given that there has been a cat and mouse game when it comes to vaccines and their effectiveness against new variants. All in all, the people of Iceland join the ranks of other nations dropping restrictions entirely as they balancing moving forward to a more normal life and living with the virus.
[Featured Photo: Victor Montol/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]