‘Epidemic of the unvaccinated’ continues in Nuuk

A COVID-19 outbreak continues in Greenland’s capital, while the illness is discovered for the first time on the east coast

Nuuk, Greenland’s capital city, continues to struggle with its worst outbreak of COVID-19 to date. (File photo courtesy of Arctic Today)

By Kevin McGwin
Arctic Today

An improving COVID-19 situation in Greenland has resulted in the relaxation of a ban on direct entry to its isolated hamlets Friday, and will also see the end of measures imposed to control a recent outbreak in its second-largest settlement.

The hamlet travel restriction was imposed a year ago and required people traveling from abroad to quarantine for five days in a city or town where they could be tested for COVID-19 before traveling on to a hamlet. The aim was to prevent the illness from being introduced in parts of the country that have minimal health services.

The relaxations come as Nuuk, the capital city, continues to struggle with its worst outbreak of the illness to date. That, coupled with, the introduction of the illness on Greenland’s eastern coast via a flight from Iceland, has public health authorities warning that the threat of COVID-19 is far from over.

Calling the outbreak in Nuuk “an epidemic of the unvaccinated,” Henrik L. Hansen, the chief medical officer, said that nearly two-thirds of those reported to have contracted the illness hadn’t received a vaccine.

“If we’d have had the same vaccination rate as in Denmark or Iceland, this outbreak would have been much less severe, and we wouldn’t be seeing the level of community transmission we’re seeing right now,” he said.

Denmark and Iceland both have vaccination rates of around 75 percent. Greenland’s vaccination rate is 64 percent, though the figure is increasing rapidly. In Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq, the local administrative region that includes Nuuk, the figure is slightly higher than the national average.

Most of those infected in the current wave in Nuuk, which began in mid-September and has been traced back to a nursery school, can be associated with another known case, but a significant number of cases could not.
“There is no longer a clear infection pattern in Nuuk,” Hansen said.

As of Thursday, Nuuk had a reported 118 cases of COVID-19 amongst its 19,000 residents. That number is slightly lower than in recent days, but it is still one of the highest levels of infection the city has seen since the pandemic began. As a result, mask-wearing and vaccination requirements imposed at the start of the current outbreak and due to expire today have been extended until October 31.

Those same requirements have been lifted in Sisimiut, which had also been hard hit by this outbreak but is now reporting just five known cases amongst its 5,000 residents.

The only two other current cases in Greenland were brought to the east coast town of Tasiilaq (pop. 2,000) by passengers traveling from Denmark via Iceland. Although Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq has taken measures to prevent an outbreak in the town — and an estimated 80 percent of residents have been vaccinated — it expressed concern that a high number of multi-generational households increased the likelihood of an outbreak.

This article originally appeared at Arctic Today and is republished with permission.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by arctic.muit.too on

    What a dividing and creational racist thing to say, over a 1/3 vs 2/3, and 99.99% survival rate. Drive the wedge in even deeper, why dont you. That is just wrong on so many levels.
    Just pushing the headlines to justify the passports. Talking about these things like they are fully and wholly publicly supported. Totally force fed.

    • Posted by Tell us more on

      What does ‘creational racist’ mean and where and how does it apply to this story?

      • Posted by sounds like textbook on

        by creating a division people based on beliefs, color, or status of any kind. And using fear and creating unaccountability to those under fire by cherrypicking scientific information to cause this division.
        prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

  2. Posted by Kim on

    Still doing better than Yellowknife and NWT, for whatever reason Greenland did not get vaccine supplies until much later, once more get vaccinated it will improve and cases will disappear.
    Iqaluit has a 97% vaccinated rate for 12 and up. That number is still going up, it’s working and no Covid epidemic.


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