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Thordis Björg, who lives in Reykjavík, the capital where more than 60% of the population lives, has an autoimmune disorder that puts her at risk of Covid. She calls Willum Thór Thórsson, the Minister of Health, who issued the decision to lift the restrictions, the “Minister of Health”. “He wasn’t really talking about the trade-off of infecting everyone. He’s just looking at the hopeful side of it,” said Björg.

Iceland had a relatively mild pandemic experience, only recorded 62 deaths and about 133,000 cases Total. During the first few months of 2020, the strategy of containing any outbreaks using careful genomic surveillance, testing and contact tracing was declared a success and a miracle. Scientific analysis: The country has “beat coronavirus“”Forge COVID with science“Or — to put it more elegantly—”Pruning the Crap Outta COVID. At the end of June 2021, the government is pleased to announce that it has lifted all restrictions. But what was supposed to be a return to normal did not last long. By the end of the month, the numbers started to skyrocket. The restrictions were reintroduced at the end of July, just a month later. They crashed again at end of August and remained so until, on December 1, Iceland announced the first case of Omicron. By December 21, tighter restrictions were in place, and those restrictions only began to be eased in early 2022.

Iceland is one of a growing list of European countries that are quickly abandoning virtually all of their Covid restrictions. At the beginning of February, Denmark became first country in the European Union to lift all restrictions, with officials saying they no longer consider Covid “a serious social illness”. On the 9th of February, Sweden follows suit, although those with symptoms are still advised to stay home. In Switzerland and Austria, almost all Covid restrictions have been removed (apart from the mask regulation in certain situations, and in Switzerland, the requirement to self-isolate for five days after testing). positive). Europe may be nearing a “reasonable end to the pandemic”, says Hans Kluge, World Health Organization Europe Director. said at a press conference in early February.

Elsewhere in the world, countries with low case numbers during the first two years of the pandemic took the opposite approach as Omicrons surged in the region. The fragile health care system of Pacific Island States such as Kiribati, Palau and Tonga means that the emergence of the virus necessitates a rush to vaccinate their populations, introduce mask-wearing duties, and close schools or institutes. China, which remains vulnerable to Omicron due to the use of less effective inactivated virus vaccines, is still pursuing “zero-Covid“It aims to contain the outbreak through strict locking and app tracking.

Oddly enough, for the lion’s share of the market in these European countries, including Iceland, the decision to lift the restrictions comes amid a spike in the Omicron wave. Denmark has second highest infection rate in the world at that time. However, as Jens Lundgren, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Copenhagen, said, the virus is no longer considered “a socially dangerous disease” by the government, meaning it poses no threat. threaten critical infrastructure – especially hospitals. That being the case, he said, “it will not be possible to continue to argue that restrictions still need to be maintained.”

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