Unlike Nunavut, Greenland focuses on COVID-19 tests for arriving travellers

“One tool to avoid an epidemic is increased testing of arrivals.”

By Jane George, Nunatsiaq News - May 8, 2020
Before boarding an Air Greenland flight to Kangerlussuaq, you will have to obtain a permit and be tested for COVID-19. All regular flights from Copenhagen remain suspended until June 1. (Jane George / Nunatsiaq News)

Greenland is introducing repeat COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers, in an effort to stop people infected with the virus from entering the island.

Greenland, with 11 positive cases of COVID-19 to date, has decided to take different than its neighbour to the west, Nunavut, whose government wants all residents to observe a two-week stay in isolation before returning to the territory.

Testing before and after arrival is at the heart of Greenland’s new measures for new entries, in contrast to Nunavut’s approach of enforcing quarantines of travellers before they enter the territory.

“We see a strong increased call for travel to Greenland, especially from business, whose activity has increased. With increased travel, the risk of new infection increases correspondingly, and one tool to avoid an epidemic is increased testing of arrivals,” said Greenland’s chief medical officer, Henrik L. Hansen, in a May 3 news release from the Greenland government.

“We would like to find them before they infect others. That is why we are introducing re-tests of visitors on the fifth day after, while maintaining the 14-day quarantine.”

After no community transmission of COVID-19 was detected in Nuuk, public health and government officials moved in mid-April to reopen the capital city.

Until June 1, regular flights to and from Denmark remain suspended.

But some can still fly to Greenland if they first obtain permits from the Greenland government.

Travellers can obtain a permit if they agree to be tested for COVID-19 before leaving Denmark, and if they agree to be tested again five days after their arrival on the island.

New arrivals will also have to stay at home for the first 14 days in Greenland, the Greenland government said in its news release.

If a traveller’s destination is a village, only the quarantine rules apply and they don’t have to be retested, the release said.

Passengers on Air Greenland flights don’t have to wear masks, unlike passengers on all flights in Nunavut and Nunavik.