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Facts about the novel coronavirus/COVID-19

Here you can read about infection with COVID-19, the symptoms, the official strategy – and what you can do yourself to contain the virus in Greenland and prevent the disease from spreading to your family.

The strategy pursued by the authorities is to reduce and delay the spread of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19. The authorities will test suspected cases of COVID-19. If someone becomes infected, the source of the infection will be identified and potential disease carriers will be contacted by the health authorities.

How is the novel coronavirus transmitted?
The novel coronavirus is transmitted through droplets when we sneeze, cough or talk.

The virus is absorbed by the mucosa – most often by the mucosa of the mouth, nose or eyes.

The primary source of infection is direct contact between people. Therefore:
  • Keep your distance to others – to prevent yourself from being infected or from passing on the infection
  • Use your sleeve to cough and sneeze – not your hands

The virus can also be transmitted indirectly, for example if you touch a door handle contaminated by an infected person who has also touched it or coughed on it.

You will not become ill with COVID-19 just because you get virus on your skin, for example on your hands.

However, we often rub our eyes, scratch our nose or touch our mouth – often even unconsciously – and this habit may make us transfer the virus to a mucosal surface.

Your hands may also transfer the virus when you touch things like cabinet doors, computers and toilet flush knobs. Therefore:
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Clean contact surfaces at home and at work

Keep your distance
If possible, keep a distance of two metres to others to avoid 'exchanging' particles from mouth and mucosal surfaces.

Avoid close contact with others to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19.

If you live together with someone else, limit close contact, keep your distance and regularly clean common contact surfaces.

Use your sleeve to cough and sneeze – not your hands
A single cough or sneeze discharges millions of droplets into the air and can infect many people nearby.

Therefore, cough or sneeze into something that will stop the droplets: your sleeve, paper tissue or the like.

Frequent handwashing
The best preventive action is to wash your hands with water and soap frequently and thoroughly to remove dirt and virus.

If your hands are visibly dirty, you must use water and soap (the virus can survive in dirt).

Hand sanitizer will kill the virus, but normally it will suffice to wash your hands. However, hand sanitizer is a good supplement after you have washed your hands as the hand sanitizer is a good disinfectant. Moreover, hand sanitizer is also a good alternative if it is not possible to wash your hands with water and soap.

Correct handwashing technique:
  • First wet your hands and wrists
  • Apply soap thoroughly to your hands
  • Rub your hands and take your time – remember fingertips, thumbs, between fingers, the back and front of your hands and wrists
  • Rinse your hands to remove the soap and thoroughly dry your hands in a paper towel or the like

See a video about thorough handwashing (in Greenlandic):

You must regularly clean surfaces that many people come into contact with at home and at work, such as door handles, cabinet doors, light switches, toilet flush knobs, washbasins and computer keyboards (contact surfaces).

As a matter of fact, one person can transmit the infection by touching a coffee pot, which another person will subsequently touch, and afterwards this other person may rub his or her eye.

Use ordinary cleaning agents.

Symptoms of COVID-19
The name of the virus is novel coronavirus, and the name of the disease is COVID-19.

The incubation period from infection to occurrence of the first symptoms is about one week, but may also be shorter or longer (from two to twelve days).

The symptoms are similar to the flu: fever, a sore throat, muscle pain and cough.
If you have symptoms, you can call the closest health centre. You will find contact numbers here

Do not go to the health centre in person because you risk infecting others.

What does quarantine mean? 

'Stay at home'
The 'stay at home' advice is directed at everybody, including children, arriving in Greenland after 16 March 2020. Newly arrived people are recommended to stay at home for two weeks as from the date of arrival.

This is not an instruction to people already infected, but it is an approach based on the precautionary principle to monitor whether newly arrived people develop symptoms.

The authorities may grant exemptions to people performing critical functions in the healthcare sector, with the police, in the armed forces or other functions critical to society.

If you develop symptoms during the period at home, you must call your local health centre.

Minimise any time spent outside your home and avoid social contact with anyone outside your household. (This restriction does not apply to any other members of your household.)

If possible, avoid visits and minimise physical contact with other members of your household (for example kissing and cooking together).

’Home quarantine’
Home quarantine is imposed on citizens in Greenland who have had social contact with a person testing positive for COVID-19, or who have travelled within the past two-week period and subsequently develops potential coronavirus symptoms.

If you are placed in home quarantine, the purpose is to reduce the risk of passing infection to others (excluding members of your household).

Minimise the time spent outside your home and avoid social contact with anyone outside your household.

If possible, avoid visits and minimise physical contact with other members of your household (for example kissing and cooking together).

’Home isolation’
Home isolation is imposed on citizens in Greenland who have developed symptoms and are waiting for a test or who are confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but are well enough to stay at home.

If you are placed in home isolation, the purpose is to prevent the spread of the disease to others, including any other members of your household.

Members of the household of a person in home isolation must stay in home quarantine and follow the directions for home quarantine.

If in home isolation, you must stay at home and not leave your home.

For more information, see the website of the National Board of Health at