This article was originally published here
Eur J Public Health. January 3, 2022: 3 ckab217. doi: 10.1093 / eurpub / ckab217. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: COVID-19 has become a global pandemic within weeks, as every country, including small states and islands, has seen an increase in the number of cases. The small islands are known to face several challenges in the quest to curb the spread of the virus, but with the absence of land borders and the small population size, these factors should have worked to their advantage to minimize the spread. The purpose of this article was to compare and contrast the COVID-19 situation, restrictions, preparedness, management and health systems between the small island states of Cyprus, Iceland and Malta.
METHODS: The data was obtained from the websites of the Ministry of Health and the COVID dashboards of the three respective island states in Europe. Comparisons were made between reported cases, deaths, excess deaths, years of life lost, swab rates, restrictive measures, vaccination deployment and health system structures.
RESULTS: Cyprus and Malta contained the spread of COVID-19 better than Iceland in the first wave. However, viral spread and significantly higher death rates were observed in Malta during the second waves. Similar health care preparation and services, restrictions and easing have been implemented in all three islands with a few exceptions. Vaccination against Covid-19 has been launched in all islands, with Malta leading the rollout of vaccination.
CONCLUSION: Small population size and island status proved to be an asset during the first wave of COVID-19, but different governance approaches led to different COVID-19 outcomes, including high death rates during the transitional phases and the following waves.