Greenland to require vaccination for foreign travellers

Non-residents will only be permitted to enter if they can prove they are fully vaccinated.

By Kevin McGwin - August 9, 2021
The town of Sisimiut, shown in this 2014 file photo, is currently Greenland’s COVID-19 hotspot. (Kevin McGwin)

Uncontrolled spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in Greenland has led that country’s public health officials to issue a requirement that all non-residents entering the country starting tomorrow must be fully vaccinated.

The requirement, announced last week, will be in effect until at least August 24, and comes as Greenland faces what Nunatsinni Nakorsaaneqarfik, the office of the chief medical officer, describes as its worst outbreak of COVID-19 since the illness emerged.

“Unfortunately, we continue to see new cases in new places. We’ve seen new cases from the south and up to Upernavik ever since July,” Muté B. Egede, the premier, said.

[Delta variant suspected in Greenland’s most recent COVID outbreak]

Seventeen new cases were reported this weekend, bringing the total number since the start of the pandemic to 175.

While there remain no deaths related to the illness in Greenland, two individuals are currently hospitalized, though they are reported to be in stable condition and are not on a ventilator. At the same time, eight people were declared to be no longer sick with COVID-19.

“Things are going smoothly,” Henrik L. Hansen, the chief medical officer, told KNR, a broadcaster.

However, officials are concerned about the situation in Sisimiut — the country’s second-largest city with a population of 5,500 — after it saw 13 cases reported this weekend. Twenty-seven people now have COVID-19 there, and more can be expected in the coming days, even as infections in outbreaks in Nuuk and other areas appear to be coming under control, according to Hansen.

“Testing shows that the new cases cannot be traced back to people previously identified with COVID-19. The infections have occurred at several places of business, public institutions and the hospital.”

[Greenland must learn to live with COVID, public health officials say]

As in other parts of Greenland, most of the new cases have been young people who are not fully vaccinated.

“The virus is affecting mostly young people, but, if we don’t stop it now, we we will see cases amongst the elderly, pregnant women and nursing mothers, which means it is critical for people in these groups to get vaccinated,” Hansen said.

Some 27,000 people in Greenland — nearly half of the population — have been fully vaccinated.