Coronavirus: Iceland’s key to success has been to keep politicians off the stage

Giving scientists authority over the coronavirus response as part of longstanding public emergency rules is an important factor in the country’s success, says Borzou Daragahi

Friday 01 May 2020 16:53
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Tourists with masks walk down Laugavegur street in downtown Reykjavik
Tourists with masks walk down Laugavegur street in downtown Reykjavik

In Iceland, no politician talks about injecting disinfectant to rid your lungs of coronavirus. In fact, when health directorate chief Alma Moller calmly stands up before a microphone at daily briefings to update the country on the Covid-19 pandemic, politicians are nowhere to be seen.

Instead, the 59-year-old, the first woman to hold the post since the directorate was created in the 18th century, is flanked by other physicians, security officials and scientists. Sometimes she invites outside experts who speak on topics ranging from childcare challenges to mental health during the lockdown to the danger of domestic abuse.

“Our goal is to tell the truth, and we make decisions based on the facts that we have,” she told the English-language Reykjavik Grapevine in an April interview.

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