Iceland Offering Coronavirus Testing To All Residents, Even If They Have No Symptoms
The country, which has a population of around 364,000, has introduced wide-scale testing of members of the public and says it has already carried out testing on a higher proportion of its residents than any other country.
Iceland's testing is carried out by health authorities and biotech firm deCODE Genetics.
Speaking to Buzzfeed, Thorolfur Guðnason, Iceland's chief epidemiologist, said: "Iceland's population puts it in the unique position of having very high testing capabilities with help from the Icelandic medical research company deCODE Genetics, who are offering to perform large scale testing.
"This effort is intended to gather insight into the actual prevalence of the virus in the community, as most countries are most exclusively testing symptomatic individuals at this time."
As of Monday (16 March), 3,783 individuals had been tested and there were 218 positive cases, though now the number has risen to 250.
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A statement from the Icelandic Government earlier this week said: "In the coming days about 1,000 tests will be performed by deCODE every day and at least 100 by the Icelandic health care system."
Guðnason said the data collected will provide valuable information to both Iceland and the rest of the world.
In a statement, he said: "There are strong indications that our efforts to contain the spread of the virus have been effective. About half of the diagnosed cases are from individuals who had been quarantined.
"Our focus is to protect those must vulnerable from contracting the virus, while trying to ensure that the overall spread of the virus remains slow. We are optimistic that the combined efforts to test a large part of the population will provide insights that can contribute to the world's response to this pandemic."
CEO of deCODE Kári Stefánsson said the company is working non-stop to carry out and process the tests.
Stefánsson said: "It is amazing to see how the community is coming together as one to deal with this threat. Here at deCode people are working 24/7 to screen for and to sequence the virus. The screening tells us where the virus is and the sequencing how it differs between the places where it is and how it continues to mutate."
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