Travel restrictions imposed on Nuuk over COVID outbreak are lifted

The ban is lifted as plans are announced to vaccinate 9,500 people in Greenland's capital by the end of the month.

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An Air Greenland plane sits on the tarmac at the airport in Nuuk in this 2016 file photo. (Mittarfeqarfiit / Rune Kaldau)

Residents of Greenland’s capital are again free to travel to other parts of the country after public health authorities said it was not necessary to extend a week-long ban on leaving the city imposed on June 15 to contain an outbreak of COVID-19.

Authorities let the ban on travel between Nuuk and other places in Greenland end on Tuesday despite an additional case being reported on Saturday. That brings the number of active cases to 10. Nine of those who tested positive are in Nuuk, while the remaining individual tested positive after travelling from the capital.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 50 cases of COVID-19 reported  in Greenland. There have been no deaths related to the illness.

The most recent case was identified by public health officials as a close contact of one of the six individuals who tested positive last week. The person had been in quarantine and is not believed to have infected anyone.

[A stringent isolation strategy has kept Greenland mostly safe from the COVID-19 pandemic]

This was the third time since the start of the pandemic that Nuuk has been sealed off from the rest of Greenland. The two most recent travel bans are related to an outbreak among the fly-in, fly-out employees of a construction firm that is building an extension of Nuuk’s airport.

That work continues, but both the worksite and the camp where the employees live have been placed under quarantine until July 2, despite no new cases of COVID-19 being reported since since June 4.

Earlier in the month, in connection with the previous travel ban, authorities announced that that Nuuk residents would be prioritized in the national vaccination program, and the Self-Rule Authority has now released plans to offer a COVID-19 vaccine to the city’s 9,500 unvaccinated residents over the age of 18 by July 1.