A health clinic in the north Greenland town of Upernavik is temporarily suspending its non-emergency service after three people reportedly contracted COVID-19 while being cared for there.
Three people in the 1,000-inhabitant city have tested positive for COVID in the past few days; all three were hospitalized. Health officials fear the city is on the verge of an outbreak and are urging residents to get tested.
Elsewhere in Greenland, three hospital patients in Nuuk tested positive for COVID as an ongoing outbreak there continues unabated.
In the past week, the number of new cases has halved and is now 190. Nationwide, 200 cases were reported by Thursday.
[A stringent isolation strategy has kept Greenland mostly safe from the COVID-19 pandemic]
The rising number of cases in Nuuk has led health officials to resume measures to control the spread of the disease, including requiring people who wish to leave Nuuk to provide either proof of vaccination or a negative test.
Although most of the restrictions apply to adults only, health officials emphasized that the outbreak was primarily caused by children.
According to the latest update, seven of the 19 people who tested positive for COVID on Thursday were under the age of 18.
“There is an epidemic among school children,” said Henrik L. Hansen, the chief physician. “They become infected and then they infect their parents and siblings and then in turn spread it to others.”
[‘Epidemic of the unvaccinated’ continues in Nuuk]
Children under the age of 12 are not offered vaccines in Greenland.
The number of people of all ages who are not fully vaccinated in Greenland is around 30 percent, yet they account for almost 60 percent of all new cases, according to statistics from the Chief Medical Officer’s office.
This is in line with a recent Danish study, according to Hansen, which found that people who haven’t been vaccinated are three times more likely to be infected with COVID than those who are and five times more likely to be hospitalized.
“If you aren’t vaccinated, you will become infected,” said Hansen. “And if you get infected, you have a higher risk of getting seriously ill and dying.”