Iceland announced yesterday that it plans to implement coronavirus testing for all arriving air passengers at the country’s only international airport by June 15 at the latest. The tests will be carried out at Keflavík International Airport (KEF) and will determine whether or not visitors to the North Atlantic Island will need to self-quarantine for 14 days.
After being tested, visitors will be allowed to go to their home or hotel while they wait to find out the results of the COVID-19 test. All test results will be processed the same day, with passengers who test positive told that they must self-isolate for at least 14 days.
Arriving passengers will be required to download and use a tracing app
If passengers can provide a recent COVID-19 test result from a recognized medical authority, they will not have to retake the test. As well as the coronavirus testing, all air passengers arriving in Iceland will be required to download and use an Icelandic government approved tracing app. The app is already in use with 40% of the Norse nation’s population.
For now, the Icelandic government says that it will cover the costs of the test, but, at some point, they may ask passengers for reimbursement.
Per capita, Iceland has tested more people than any other country
After having successfully containing the coronavirus following the testing of 15% of its 364,000-strong population, Iceland is committed to keeping the island free of the deadly virus. Incidentally, the testing of 54,791 Icelanders represents more tests per capita than any other country on the planet.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year in Europe, Iceland has recorded 1,801 positive cases that have resulted in ten deaths. So far in May, there have been only three reported cases and none for the last five days. While talking about how Iceland has done so well fighting the coronavirus than other countries, newswire service Bloomberg quotes the country’s Foreign Minister, Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson with saying:
“We don’t want to sacrifice our good results in the battle against Covid-19, but at the same time, we are taking a step to open up the country and get the economy going again.”
Unlike several European countries that closed their borders to help stop the coronavirus from spreading, Iceland’s borders have remained open to other Schengen countries.
If successful, Iceland will consider testing at its international ferry terminal
Iceland has since April 24, imposed a mandatory 14 day quarantine period for all passengers arriving from overseas. On top of a rule which required natives and permanent residents to self-isolate for 14 days if they had been in a country that was deemed to be high risk like China, Italy and, Spain.
If the new coronavirus testing measures being rolled out at Keflavík International Airport proves to be a success, the government has said it may consider a similar program at other international entry points. With strong links to other Nordic countries, Iceland has regularly scheduled ferries that operate between Iceland, Demark and, the Faroe Islands.