COVID-19 pandemic in the Faroe Islands

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached the Faroe Islands, an autonomous territory of Denmark, in March 2020. The confirmed infection rate was 1 case per 280 inhabitants, one of the highest rates in the world, but the archipelago also tested at a very high frequency, with the number of tests equalling c. 17 per cent of the population (among all the world's countries, only in Iceland has almost as many been tested, per capita).[3] The vast majority of the confirmed cases were asymptomatic or mild; a few were admitted to hospital,[4] and none died.[2] The last person recovered on 8 May and there are no known active cases in the Faroe Islands.[2][5]

COVID-19 pandemic in the Faroe Islands
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationFaroe Islands
First outbreakWuhan, China (globally),
Paris, France (origin of first Faroese case)[1]
Index caseTórshavn
Arrival date4 March 2020
(2 months and 4 weeks)
Confirmed cases187[2]
Active cases0[2]
Recovered187[2]
Deaths
0[2]
Government website
https://corona.fo/

OverviewEdit

The significant salmon farming on the islands requires test equipment to check for Salmon isavirus, which was repurposed in 2009 against the Pandemic H1N1/09 virus. The equipment was adapted to test for COVID-19, and ready by February 2020 to test 600 per day instead of waiting days for samples to be sent to Denmark for testing.[6] The islands employed the usual epidemic strategy of testing, disease surveillance and tracking disease cases,[7] which have been abandoned in most countries because their health care system has been overwhelmed. The Faroe Islands, like Iceland, is seen as an exception due to its large testing capacity relative to its population size; a miniature laboratory with lessons on how to handle the disease.[8] Researchers perform DNA analysis of the virus strains.[9] The islands are preparing for a possible second wave of infections.[10]

TimelineEdit

Below is a detailed description of how the virus spread according to news media in the Faroe Islands. Results were announced in the morning. These results were from swabs taken the day before.

Overview of the evolvement of the pandemic in the Faroe Islands.

Wednesday 4 MarchEdit

On 4 March 2020, the Faroe Islands had its first confirmed case, a man who on 24 February[11] returned home from a conference in Paris, France. He had mild symptoms, and was placed in home quarantine.[1][12]

Friday 6 MarchEdit

On 6 March, a second case was confirmed.[13] The second confirmed case was a woman returning home from Northern Italy. She returned home on 3 March and went in quarantine at Hotel Vágar.[14]

There was mcuh news coverage on the field trips of 300 students and teachers to France, because Glasir (Tórshavn College) decided to cancel the trip because of the COVID-19 outbreak, especially after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark had changed France from a green area to a yellow area, meaning that the recommendation went from "Be attentive" to "Be extra cautious."[15]

Thursday 12 MarchEdit

The society slows down. Following the announcement on the evening of Wednesday 11 March, that Denmark would be shutting down, the Faroese government had a press conference on Thursday morning at 9:00 am announcing the measures that would be put in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Faroe Islands. The recommendations were as follows:[citation needed]

  • All international travel is strongly discouraged, unless absolutely necessary
  • All municipalities are urged to take measures regarding passenger cruise ships on their way to the Faroe Islands
  • Anyone arriving in the Faroe Islands from overseas must take the utmost precaution and stay at home
  • Restrictions on visitors to hospitals and nursing homes will apply. Further guidelines will be issued by the health and local council authorities
  • The school system, including tertiary, secondary and primary schools, will close. Students and pupils will wherever possible have access to remote teaching.
  • Children's activity centres, preschools and day care facilities will also close. Childcare will be offered to those who, for particular reasons, are not able to have their children at home during working hours.
  • All employees in the public sector who do not deal with the most essential services should work from home. Staff will receive further instructions from their respective directors.
  • Measures have already been taken in the private sector to guard against infection.
  • Bars, venues and restaurants are urged to close by 22:00 for the next two weeks.

Shortly after this announcement, Smyril Line announced that they would stop transporting passengers. They would allow the last passengers to get home, but with measures to prevent infected people to get on board, such as vetting them and checking their temperature, before they were allowed entry.[16][17]

Friday 13 MarchEdit

On 13 March, the third case was confirmed.[18] There were 23 tests made the day before, and the only positive one was a woman who came from Denmark on 9 March.[19] The woman went to work in a kindergarten in Klaksvík on 10 March, which meant that her coworkers, children, children's parents and grandparents, as well as her friends were quarantined. Around 100 people were quarantined.[20]

On Friday evening, two new cases were confirmed, but these results belong to the statistics for confirmed cases on Saturday.

The fourth Faroe Islander was confirmed positive. This person was a student at Glasir, Tórshavn College, and he or she was infected on a study tour to Portugal. The students had not been to school since they returned from their trip.[21]

The fifth infected Faroe Islander arrived from Edinburgh, but it was not known when he arrived to the Faroe Islands. He was above 30 and from Tórshavn.[22][23]

Saturday 14 MarchEdit

On 14 March, there were six new confirmed cases, bringing the total up to nine.[24] This was the result of testing 100 people the day before.[25]

Sunday 15 MarchEdit

On 15 March, there were two confirmed cases, bringing the total count up to 11. On this date it was confirmed that 7 of the 11 infected were infected in other countries, while two were infected by people who already tested positive and were in quarantine. Altogether there had been administered 327 tests.[26] The two people who were infected in the Faroe Islands were staff at the kindergarten in Klaksvík where the infected woman worked.[27] By 15 March 327 people had been tested and 122 people were in quarantine.[26]

Before business resumed on Monday, the Faroese government announced four ways they would help businesses get through this crisis.[28]

  1. The government will pay companies back the salary of people who have been asked by the government to be in quarantine. People who can work from home are not covered.
  2. If companies need to decrease the amount of hours their employees work, the Faroese Employment Office will provide the lost income at a percentage of the maximum payment.
  3. Companies can pay their VAT 3 months late.
  4. The Danish Growth Fund can assist small and medium-sized companies with financing of operations.

Monday 16 MarchEdit

On 16 March, seven new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 18. These seven positive results came out of 190 tests made the day before, which means that there were 517 tests administered altogether.[29]

The biggest banks in the Faroe Islands, Betri banki and BankNordik announced that they would grant private and commercial clients respite for 6 months.[30][31]

Tuesday 17 MarchEdit

On 17 March 29 new cases were confirmed, expanding the total number to 47. There were 190 tests administered the day before, bringing the total number of tests for COVID-19 to 703.[32]

The Faroese Epidemic Commission advised people not to gather in groups. They said that no more than 10 people should be together at once, inside or outside.[33]

The Chief Medical Officer in the Faroe Islands announced that at this point, most people have been infected within the Faroe Islands. Most of the infected live in Tórshavn or Klaksvík.[34]Klaksvíkar sjúkrahús started to test for COVID-19, making it easier for people in Eysturoy and the Northern Islands to get tested.[35]

Three employees at the National Hospital of the Faroe Islands were confirmed positive, bringing the total number of infected employees at this hospital to four.[36]

Scandinavian Airlines stopped flying to the Faroe Islands on 17 March.[37] The same day was the last day that Atlantic Airways was transporting passengers on their flights. Now they are only flying essential personnel and patients between Vagar Airport and Copenhagen Airport.[38]

Wednesday 18 MarchEdit

On 18 March 11 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total up to 58. 933 people have now been tested altogether, so 230 tests were administered on Tuesday, and 247 people are in quarantine.[39]

The person who was first confirmed infected was confirmed recovered on 18 March. He and his family had been in quarantine at home, but they were now relieved from quarantine. They are all tested negative. He first started to show symptoms on 29 February and the people he had been in contact with, who were quarantined at home or at Hotel Vágar, have also been relieved from quarantine.[40]

Magn and Effo announced that they would close all gas station shops on Thursday 19 March in order to limit the spread of the virus. It was still possible to buy gasoline and diesel with credit card, as it was only the shops that were closed.[41]

Several ferries restricted the number of passengers.[42]

Thursday 19 MarchEdit

On 19 March 14 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total up to 72. 1,221 people have now been tested altogether, meaning that there were 288 people tested on Wednesday.[43]

On this day, many volunteers signed up to work at hospitals and nursing homes. 150 people signed up to help in the hospital, in case the hospital system would need extra staff. 93 people signed up to help nursing homes in two municipalities. People who volunteered were medical students, retired nurses, nurse students, assistant nurse students, health visitor students, and educators from kindergartens that were closed anyway.[44][45][46]

The second Faroe Islander was declared recovered from COVID-19. It was the woman who had been in quarantine in Hotel Vágar and who was the second Faroe Islander to be confirmed infected.[47]

Friday 20 MarchEdit

By March 20, 8 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total up to 80. 420 people were tested on Thursday 19 March, bringing the total number of administered tests to 1,641. The third infected person was confirmed recovered. More than 675 people were in quarantine on this day.[48] The Social Services system reported that it was operational, with reserve staff available. No users had been infected.[49]

On a press conference held on 20 March it was announced that all the changes the government had previously implemented for two weeks would last until 13 April, which was Easter Monday.[50]

On this day, Betri, a Faroese bank, insurance company and pension provider decided to donate DKK 10 million (equivalent of US$1.4 million) to Sjúkrahúsverk Føroya (the Faroese Hospital Service). The money was to be used for equipment and supplies that would help fight the coronavirus.[51]

5,000 people were expected to join the special crisis system set up within ASL, the Faroese Employment Office, on Monday, where they would get paid up to DKK 20,000 DKK a month. If 5,000 people would join, it was expected that this special system would cost DKK 108 million per month.[52] For example, around 180 people working for Atlantic Airways were signed up for this system, since the national airline had cancelled all commercial flights and would only be handling three flights per week between Vágar and Copenhagen. The airline would primarily be flying patients and Faroe Islanders who were working abroad.[53]

Saturday 21 MarchEdit

On 21 March there were 12 new confirmed cases, bringing the total up to 92. It was also announced that so far, no one in the Faroe Islands had died from the coronavirus pandemic. Above 600 people were in quarantine.[54] 11 people were confirmed to have recovered from the virus, bringing the total number of recovered people up to 14. This means that 14 people out of the 92 infected have recovered, leaving 78 people still infected. There had been made 301 tests the day before, bringing the total number of tests administered to 1942.[55] The national broadcasting showed a collage video of people singing together safely from individual homes as a way of keeping up spirits.[56]

The gender split is equal among the people tested positive.[57]

Exports declined by 100 million DKK in March 2020 compared to March 2019.[58]

AprilEdit

Some lockdown measures were eased on 9 April,[59] however church services remained closed.[60] Commercial activity for aviation, tourism and other areas were challenged.[61][62][63] The salmon industry saw increased demand but struggled to attract applicants laid off from other industries.[64][65] The quarantine reduced the spread of both COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.[66]

MayEdit

More lockdown measures were eased in early May,[67][68] with most being removed by mid-May.[69][70] The government declared the islands "Corona free" on 9 May,[71][72] crediting the community spirit of the population.[73]

Data overviewEdit

Below is an overview of the data presented above.

COVID-19 cases in Faroe Islands  ()
     Deaths        Recoveries        Active cases
Date
# of cases
2020-03-04
1
1(=)
2020-03-06
2(+100%)
2(=)
2020-03-13
3(+50%)
2020-03-14
9(+200%)
2020-03-15
11(+22%)
2020-03-16
18(+64%)
2020-03-17
47(+161%)
2020-03-18
58(+23%)
2020-03-19
72(+24%)
2020-03-20
80(+11%)
2020-03-21
92(+15%)
2020-03-22
115(+25%)
2020-03-23
118(+2.6%)
2020-03-24
122(+3.4%)
2020-03-25
132(+8.2%)
2020-03-26
140(+6.1%)
2020-03-27
144(+2.9%)
2020-03-28
151(+4.9%)
2020-03-29
155(+2.6%)
2020-03-30
159(+2.6%)
2020-03-31
164(+3.1%)
2020-04-01
169(+3.0%)
2020-04-02
173(+2.4%)
2020-04-03
177(+2.3%)
2020-04-04
181(+2.3%)
2020-04-05
184(+1.7%)
2020-04-06
184(=)
2020-04-07
184(=)
2020-04-08
184(=)
2020-04-09
184(=)
2020-04-10
184(=)
2020-04-11
184(=)
2020-04-12
184(=)
2020-04-13
184(=)
2020-04-14
184(=)
2020-04-15
184(=)
2020-04-16
184(=)
2020-04-17
184(=)
2020-04-18
184(=)
2020-04-19
185(+0.54%)
2020-04-20
185(=)
2020-04-21
185(=)
2020-04-22
185(=)
2020-04-23
187(+1.08%)
2020-04-24
187(=)
2020-04-25
187(=)
2020-04-26
187(=)
2020-04-27
187(=)
2020-04-28
187(=)
2020-04-29
187(=)
2020-04-30
187(=)
2020-05-01
187(=)
2020-05-02
187(=)
2020-05-03
187(=)
2020-05-04
187(=)
2020-05-05
187(=)
2020-05-06
187(=)
2020-05-07
187(=)
2020-05-08
187(=)
2020-05-09
187(=)
Data sourced from corona.fo


See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit