In Europe, the new year got off to the worst possible start in terms of COVID. In many countries, infection and mortality rates are skyrocketing due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has led to new restrictions on daily life. The emergence of a new, even more contagious variant of the virus has accelerated the measures. Greenland, which has managed the pandemic relatively well so far, wants to prevent this variant from taking hold on the island. That is why the selfrule government has announced new, tough measures.
Entry between 12 January and January 22 will only be allowed for residents living in Greenland or for people working in high-necessity professions. As of January 22, entry into Greenland will only be possible in absolutely necessary exceptional cases, the government announced at a press conference, according to Greenlandic media. This measure will initially be valid until the end of February, but could be extended should the need arise. Entry is still only possible with a negative COVID test, which is not older than 72 hours. In addition, returnees must go into quarantine for five days and be tested again within this time.
For those residents of Greenland who are currently still abroad, mainly in Denmark, more return flights are to be made available as of January 12. Because many of them were stuck when the self-government imposed an entry ban until this date shortly before the end of the year due to the new virus variant. According to the newspaper Sermitsiaq, around 1,000 Greenlandic residents are currently stranded. “The infection of the new coronavirus variant is growing explosively in Denmark and the last thing we want is for the variant to enter our country,” head Dr Henrik L. Hansen tells the newspaper. “So we’ve assessed it’s safer to get our citizens home as soon as possible, so they have the least possible risk of becoming infected with the English form of the virus.” For the return trip, however, planes will not be fully utilized to meet the distances. Travelers who have a ticket after January 22 will receive a refund.
There are currently 28 positive cases registered in Greenland, but no fatalities. Denmark, after a peak in mid-December and the imposition of strict restrictions, is again showing falling numbers overall. However, the authorities here have also declared the highest alert level in view of the new variant and a general lockdown is still in effect until January 17. Vaccination has already started in both Denmark and Greenland.
Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal
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