After 11 COVID-19 infections, Greenland plans to slowly reopen Nuuk

“We believe that there is no community transmission of the infection.”

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Greenland’s capital Nuuk, on lockdown since mid-March, may soon be able to reopen. (Krestia DeGeorge)

With no community transmission of COVID-19 in Nuuk, it will be possible to start reopening Greenland’s capital city, Prime Minister Kim Kielsen and chief medical officer Henrik L. Hansen said Monday.

“We have tested more than 900 people and have not seen new cases of COVID-19 disease.… The last person found to be infected was tested on March 16. The last person to be infected locally was tested at the end of March,” Hansen said, as reported by the Sermitsiaq AG newspaper in Greenlandic and Danish.

After hoping to avoid the new coronavirus, Greenland had its first case confirmed on March 16 in a Nuuk resident who had travelled abroad.

The infected person went into quarantine.

And after there were more confirmed infections in Nuuk, the city of about 18,000 imposed a lockdown on March 18 for three weeks.

The lockdown also included scheduled flights.

[Nuuk is sealed off after a second COVID-19 case is confirmed]

As of today, there have been 11 confirmed COVID-19 infections in Greenland.

“We believe that there is no community transmission of the infection. We are confident,” Hansen said during Monday’s news conference.

Work is now underway to reopen the Nuuk Center shopping mall again, Kielsen said.

And if “we do not see new cases of the infection in Nuuk, we will carefully open the schools in a week’s time,” he said.

Students would go back to school on staggered schedules, as is being done in other schools on the western coast of Greenland, he said.

“We still recommend that as many people as possible work from home. We haven’t changed that part yet. That will continue until May 1,” Kielsen said.

[As Greenland reports its first COVID-19 case, Nuuk hopes to leverage natural isolation to fight the disease]

Meanwhile, a new COVID test machine was put into operation in Nuuk’s own laboratory yesterday.

Two samples were taken from a patient: one sample is being analyzed in Nuuk’s laboratory and the other sample has been sent to Copenhagen for analysis.

If the tests show the same result, “we will begin to analyze the tests ourselves here,” Hansen said.

Kielsen said he hasn’t let his guard down yet. That day will come when a vaccine for the new coronavirus arrives, he said.

“Follow hygiene and social distancing recommendations and stay in your home. This is how we can avoid infection,” he said.

To encourage social peace, Nuuk also established a two-week alcohol ban, which is set to expire April 15.