New Covid-19 preventive measures
The authorities announced new measures in response to the 16 new domestic Covid-19 cases registered in the past two days at a news conference at 3pm today.
Below are the highlights from the news conference:
- There are currently no plans for a new lockdown, but some preventive measures will be taken to help control the situation.
- A new testing strategy will enable anyone to get tested, regardless of symptoms.
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- Two new testing stations will be set up in the capital area, increasing the daily testing capacity to about 500. Once the stations will be taken into use, a prescription will no longer be required.
- Anyone who feels any symptoms or who has been in contact with someone who is or appears to be Covid-19 positive should get tested.
- Mandatory testing of incoming travellers will be extended until 31 October, and they will now be asked to take a follow-up test six days after arrival.
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- All mass events should be cancelled or postponed, and nightlife establishments are encouraged to close until further notice.
- All visits to old people's homes will be suspended for the next two weeks.
- The use of protective face masks is recommended in crowded places. - People are urged to take the social distancing and hygiene guidelines seriously.
- The national health service is significantly better equipped to deal with Covid-19 than it was at the outbreak in March.
Questions from the floor
Question: When the people do not respect the social distancing and hygiene rules, isn’t that a sign of weak leadership?
Prime Minister: “We saw a clear change in public behaviour when the virus was wiped out in April. We sincerely hope that now, with the virus returning, people will recognise the severity of the situation and act accordingly. We see other countries seeking legal authority to enforce compliance with social distancing measures, but that does not appear to go a long way towards eradicating the virus.”
Question: Will schools and daycare be shut down?
Prime Minister: “Our initial plan is to keep these institutions open as usual, as our health experts say the virus is less of an immediate threat to children and teenagers.”
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Question: People are scared. How should we conduct ourselves in the coming days?
Prime Minister: “This is something we’re looking into. We only have figures from the past two days. Our further plans will rely heavily on tomorrow’s figures. In general, we should conduct ourselves like we did when the virus broke out in March, with the same levels of caution and alertness. It is crucial that we rediscover that mind set now.”
Question: So parents should send their children to daycare and go to work as usual?
Chief medical officer: “We should hold back on visiting vulnerable people in hospitals and other institutions, but we should wait a day or two before making any decisions about closing schools or daycare centres.”
Question: Should we now just resign to the fact that Covid-19 is here to stay?
Chief of police: “With open borders, it is unrealistic to expect the Faroe Islands to be entirely free of Covid-19.”
Question: What will it take for a new lockdown to be imposed?
Prime Minister: ”If the infection numbers continue to rise, we need to reassess our position on this. The economic and social consequences of a lockdown are devastating, and that is something we really do not want to see again. For now, we just need to adjust our daily lives like we all did so well earlier this year. Our strategy is not to be entirely free of Covid-19; our primary objective is to keep our society running as normally as possible in these abnormal circumstances.”
Question: Who will pay for the mandatory testing of incoming travellers after 14 august?
Prime Minister: “We haven’t decided on that yet. Our priority right now is to reduce the numbers of Covid-19 cases.”
Question: People are on the lookout for scapegoats. Looking back, did you pick the right strategy?
Prime Minister: ”I take full responsibility for our strategy. What we’re seeing today is that the public did not observe our health guidelines, especially during ólavsøka last week.”
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Question: You had the authority to cancel the ólavsøka national holiday. Was it right to go ahead with the celebrations?
Prime Minister: “The public wanted to celebrate ólavsøka. Many efforts were made to spread the celebrations out to the city’s districts as a preventive alternative to the usual events in the centre. What’s important now is that the virus is back in our community, and we must all work together to fight it off once again with the same spirit we had this spring.”
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Question: How do you trace the sources of infection when the number of positive tests is as high as it is now?
Chief medical officer: “There are probably two sources of infection in the country at the moment. There are some loose ends, but we are doing everything we can to solve this puzzle.”
Question: Are there any plans to limit international travel?
Prime Minister: ”As things stand now, we will not make any changes in this regard. Our immediate goal is to combat the virus domestically.”
Question: Do you have an exit strategy?
Prime Minister: “It is too early to set any dates. We will know a lot more over the next couple of days.”
Question: Where do those who tested positive today and yesterday come from?
Chief medical officer: “Most of them are from Tórshavn, and a few are from the Runavík area.”
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Question: Do you have any plans for local lockdowns?
Prime Minister: We might consider that, but it’s too early to say now.
Prime Minister Bárður á Steig concluded the news conference by saying that if each one of us respects the social distancing and hygiene guidelines, we will again manage to defeat this virus.
For more information about Covid-19 in the Faroes, visit corona.fo.
Translated by prosa.fo