93.7 Overall Score (up 35.7 since Aug 1st.)


  • 70.8 Public Health
  • 87.9 Financial
  • 100 Fact-Based
  • 70.8 Public Health
  • 87.9 Financial
  • 100 Fact-Based

Iceland has a very strong score, owing heavily to its reliance on facts as well as generous debt and income support; its large improvement since January was keyed by significant improvements in public health policy and financial support.

Pre-COVID Conditions

A low debt-to-GDP ratio, a very healthy population, minimal inequality, and widely accessible quality health services overshadow Iceland’s low number of hospital beds and made it relatively well-positioned to respond to the pandemic.

  • Debt/GDP ratio 37.6%
  • GDP/capita $56,974
  • Gini coefficient (out of 100) 26.8
  • Infant mortality rate (out of 1,000 live births) 2
  • Healthcare access score (out of 100) 93.6
  • Hospital beds/1,000 People 22.6

Government Response

Select a data point for more information
(Data points represent policy level as of Mar 15.)

Public Health Directives

Iceland has a relatively strong public health policy score, with weak testing and travel restrictions keeping its score from being higher.

  • Stay at home order 0
  • Public gathering restrictions 3
  • School closings 1
  • Public event cancellations 1
  • Testing policy 3
  • Emergency healthcare investments/capita $0.00
  • Travel restrictions 3
  • Tests/1,000 people 846
  • Contact tracing 2

Financial Response

Iceland’s very weak stimulus package is over-ridden by its very generous income support and debt forbearance, giving it a very strong score.

  • Financial stimulus as share of GDP 9.2%
  • Income support 2
  • Debt forebearance 2

Fact-Based Communication

Iceland’s health authorities have made regular, fact-based briefings to the press.

  • Reliance on science/fact based information 0
  • Press freedom 0

COVID-19 Status as of Mar 15

Despite a very high rate of confirmed cases early on, Iceland effectively brought its numbers down; it has kept cases and deaths low, and its very low positivity rate suggests it is testing a wide range of its population.

  • Total deaths 3
  • Death rate per 100K 8
  • Total cases 6,083
  • Cases per 100K 0
  • Percent of positive tests 0.3
  • Change in positivity rates -1.2
Case Trend Line
Daily cases
Date Status New Cases/1M
1 May 04 Schools, personal services venues, gyms, bars, and pools open, increasing gathering sizes from 20 to 50 0.00
2 May 25 Up to 200 people are allowed to gather 0.00
3 Jun 15 People arriving in Iceland undergo a COVID-19 test or a 14-day quarantine; up to 500 people are allowed to gather 2.93
4 Jul 31 Gatherings of over 100 people are banned; masks are mandatory on public transit; screening at airports intensifies 38.10

Differentiating Factors

Compared with Other Island Nations
  • 38.3
    Indonesia 1,425,044
    Per 1M

    Indonesia scores relatively weakly, a big drop in the past few months, keyed by substantial weakening of travel restrictions, testing policy, and debt relief.

  • 72.7
    Japan 448,000
    Per 1M

    Japan has a strong overall score, driven by its generous financial response and a reliance on facts, although its public health policy is very weak.

  • 100
    New Zealand 2,432
    Per 1M

    New Zealand has had very strong policy, particularly with regard to its reliance on science and facts and its relatively strong financial response.

  • 73.3
    Taiwan 990
    Per 1M

    Taiwan has a relatively strong policy score, but its minimal stimulus and weak debt relief bring it down. However, the data does not accurately measure its advanced contact tracing, which may have diminished the need for more restrictions; this likely results in a score that underestimates Taiwan’s response.

Further Reading From Foreign Policy

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New Zealand

Statistics and government response factors available on each country profile include:

Pre-COVID Conditions:

  • Debt to GDP ratio
  • Infant mortality rates
  • Hospital beds per 1,000 people
  • Gini coefficients measuring inequality
  • Health access and quality

COVID-19 Public Health Directives:

  • Stay-at home orders
  • School-closing policy
  • Public-gathering restrictions
  • Cancellation of public events
  • Testing policy and rates per 1,000 people
  • Emergency healthcare spending per capita
  • Travel restrictions
  • Contact tracing

COVID-19 Financial Response:

  • Stimulus package as a share of GDP
  • Income support
  • Debt-forbearance

Public Communications:

  • Instances of misinformation by leadership
  • Limitations on press freedom, censorship

Current/Historic In-Country COVID-19 Status:

  • Death rates per 1 million
  • Case rates per 1 million