Roundup of COVID-19 responses around the Arctic

Houses are seen amongst the surrounding landscape of Kirkenes, Norway, Oct. 24, 2019. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

By Eilís Quinn, Julie Rémy, Levon Sevunts and Mathiew Leiser, Eye on the Arctic
 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eye on the Arctic has brought you regular updates from around the circumpolar North on how national and sub-national governments have responded to the crisis.

But as Arctic regions continue to lift COVID-19 restrictions, we're putting a pause on our interactive map as of May 25, 2020, to offer you more in-depth coverage on the economic re-openings, and other Arctic related news and newsmakers, over on the Eye on the Arctic news site.

We will return to map updates as the situation warrants.

In the meantime, feel free to browse the map for an overview of how different Arctic regions responded to the crisis.

-The Eye on the Arctic team

Mobile version of the interactive map

 

FILES

CANADA

April 2020

30/04/2020 – 10h30 EDT

NUNAVUT: This eastern Arctic territory reported its first case of COVID-19 infection on Thursday, with public health authorities urging residents not to panic.

“Nunavut has had time to prepare, and we are in a solid position to manage this,” said Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq in a news release Thursday morning. “We ask people not to place any blame, not to shame and to support communities and each other as we overcome COVID-19 in Nunavut.”

The case was reported in the Baffin Island community of Pond Inlet.

Until Thursday, Nunavut was the only jurisdiction in Canada to have no confirmed coronavirus cases.

“We did anticipate that it was only a matter of time before our territory had a confirmed case, and unfortunately today is that day,” said Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer Michael Patterson. “We have initiated contact tracing in the community and our rapid response team is on its way to Pond Inlet, to provide care and ensure the community has all necessary supports to help manage the situation.”

The individual is self-isolating and doing well, the government said.

News of the new case comes the day after Nunavut extended its public health emergency until May 14.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer says the government and health authorities will be meeting this week to discuss the safest way to start lifting COVID-19 restrictions in the territory.

“My team and I are working around-the-clock – analyzing all the data we have on transmission dynamics, cases, deaths, and the situation across Canada and the globe – and deliberating on the best way to move forward with our territory’s unique needs in mind,” Kami Kandola said in a statement on the government’s website on Wednesday.

She said five areas were currently under discussion: how to plan the reopening of schools and government offices; easing restrictions on gatherings, helping businesses, making sure COVID-19 isn’t reintroduced to the territory and how to protect the elderly or those with pre-existing health conditions until a vaccine is developed.

NWT has had five total cases of COVID-19 infection in their territory. All five individuals have since recovered.

29/04/2020 – 10h EDT

YUKON: Yukoners who can’t get medical examination certificates to renew their driver’s license amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, won’t be penalized for it the territorial government said on Tuesday.

Medical exams for the certificates were suspended in mid-March, along with all other non-essential health care services, as part of COVID-19 mitigation measures.

The penalty for failing to submit the certificate is suspension or cancellation of one’s driver’s license.

On Tuesday, the government said this put a huge mobility burden on seniors and would hamper essential deliveries by commercial drivers, and issued a ministerial order to prolong the deadline for filing medical examination reports with the Motor Vehicles office.

The exemption period was backdated to March 18 and will expire 90 days after whatever date Yukon lifts its State of Emergency, a government news release said.

NUNAVIK: Three more COVID-19 patients have recovered in Nunavik, leaving just three active cases in the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec.

Nunavik has reported 16 total confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. They occurred in the communities of Salluit (one case), Inukjuak (one case) and Puvirnituq (14 cases).

The remaining three active cases are Puvirnituq.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services called the new recoveries “a joyful event” and asked for people not to stigmatize recovered people saying once they’d tested negative they were no longer required to isolate.

28/04/2020 – 16h EDT

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): The Northwest Territories will extend both its territory-wide state of emergency and its public health emergency until May 12, according to a press release from the territorial government issued Tuesday.

Both acts were in effect until April 28, and will be further extended another two weeks due to the “continued need for response to the COVID-19 global pandemic,” according to the release.

This decisions comes after the territorial government tightened up COVID-19 containment measures for some previously exempt essential workers saying risk of further infection in the territory had to be avoided.

“There’s only one shot you get at containment, and I’m proud of the work our territory has done to achieve it,” said Diane Thom, NWT’s minister of Health and Social Services, in a statement on Monday.

 “All this doesn’t happen by itself, and we still have a lot of work ahead to keep us in containment while a vaccine is developed. But these kinds of targeted measures are needed in order to look at relaxing restrictions at home.”

Now, even those deemed essential workers will have to complete symptom declarations, will be subject to territorial coronavirus tracking measures  and will be required to practice self-distancing immediately upon arriving in NWT.

Some of the professions now covered by the new measures include infrastructure workers employed by territorial, municipal or Indigenous governments and organizations, as well as corrections officers returning to the NWT.

NWT has had five total cases of COVID-19 infection in their territory. All five individuals have since recovered.

27/04/2020 – 10h EDT

NUNAVIK: The regional health board reported two new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing total confirmed cases in the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec to 16.

The newly reported cases were both in the Hudson Bay community of Puvirnituq.

The two individuals had been in previous contact with infected persons and were already in self-isolation. They’d been tested to see if their self-isolation could be lifted but were found to be positive, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) said in Facebook post.

As of Sunday, ten of the people who’ve had COVID-19 in Nunavik have recovered, the NRBHSS said.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): The territorial government has expanded its criteria for COVID-19 testing, saying increased screening will be key to safely re-opening the economy in the coming weeks.

NWT had previously offered testing to anyone experiencing fever, shortness of breath or a new, or worsening cough.

Now, testing will be offered to those experiencing recent onset of muscle fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, headache diarrhea, vomiting or loss of smell.

“We want more people to get tested so that we can better understand this virus,” said Diane Thom, NWT’s minister of Health and Social Services, in a news release on Friday.

“By getting tested, you’re playing an important role in containing this virus because the more information we have about it the better we will be able to respond to it.”

NWT is evaluating whether certain COVID-19 measures could be relaxed for locals over the next 4-6 weeks. But NWT Chief Public Health Officer Kami Kandola says ramped up testing, among other measures, would need to be in place first, to make sure certain public health measures can be lifted safely.

NWT has had five total cases of COVID-19 infection in their territory. All five individuals have since recovered.

NUNAVUT: On Friday, the government of this eastern Arctic territory officially closed all Nunavut Arctic College (NAC) campuses and facilities to students until the fall term starts.

In a statement, David Akeeagok, Nunavut’s deputy premier, said instructors would get in touch with students to inform them if their particular programs would be continuing or not,  or if their programs would continue by alternate means.

Nunavut remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19. As of Friday, there were 253 people either waiting for test results, or experiencing symptoms that warranted self-monitoring for the coronavirus.

24/04/2020 – 15h45 EDT

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): To help relieve pressure on essential workers, the Northwest Territories government will invest a total of $5.1 million in child care support for health care workers, front-line staff and essential workers responding to COVID-19.

The funding will create four temporary child care programs during the pandemic to ease financial strain on family day homes and child care centres.

  • $1.9 million subsidy to lower child care costs by a third for parents who are required to physically attend work and who need child care during COVID-19.
  • $1,000 per month wage supplement to child care staff in the territory to ensure that they continue to keep their facilities open, particularly during non-regular hours.
  • $665,000 to purchase personal protective equipment for day-care staff and clients and to pay for supplies and labour to clean the facilities.
  • $1.24-million subsidy to offset a portion of the fixed costs, such as rent and utilities, for early learning and child care programs that had to close due to COVID-19. This fund is also here to help programs to re-open once the health risks have decreased.

“Parents who are providing healthcare and other essential services in response to COVID-19 are experiencing increased child care pressures due to self-isolation and physical distancing requirements,” R.J. Simpson, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, said in a news release.

Childcare is considered an essential service because it allows workers to keep serving residents during the pandemic.

YUKON: With COVID-19 measures continuing to have a significant financial impact on residents of this northwestern territory, the government is extending the property tax deadline from July 2 to September 2, 2020, it said in a news release on Thursday.

The extension applies to both business and residential properties.

“The COVID-19 situation has had a significant impact on both our local and territorial economies,” said Dan Curtis, mayor of the capital city of Whitehorse.

 “I want to thank Minister (of Community Services John) Streicker and the Government of Yukon for facilitating this measure for our residents, and for hopefully giving them a bit of breathing room in regard to their finances.”

In its most recent update on Wednesday, Yukon health authorities reported 11 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and eight recoveries.

NUNAVIK: The health board in the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec will be contributing $500,000 to COVID-19 food assistance initiatives, the organization said on Thursday.

“While it is not a long-term solution, emergency food assistance can take the burden off people and families who are running out of food during this stressful period,” Marie Rochette, the public health director at the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) said in a news release.

Health authorities say while coronavirus mitigation measures are necessary, they are creating recognized hardships for some families.

“Food insecurity is already a problem in the region and COVID-19 isolation measures may have the potential to complicate things further if not recognized,” said Minnie Grey, NRBHSS executive director.

“Government and regional income support measures are deemed necessary and crucial to ensure people can meet their basic needs. Community organizations and non-profit organizations play a key role in providing direct help to those running out of food in this challenging time.”

Nunavik has been on lockdown since April 3 in an effort to contain the coronavirus. To date, there’s been 14 total confirmed cases in the region and seven recoveries.

23/04/2020 – 10h EDT

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): The NWT has had no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in over two weeks, but chief Public Health Officer Kami Kandola said the territory needed to remain vigilant until southern Canada has got the pandemic under control.

“The biggest risk to our territory is the situation across Canada – and right now, Canada’s cases continue to grow significantly each day in spite of testing rates far lower than our own,” Kandola said in a statement on Tuesday.

Kandola said a second and third wave of the coronavirus were expected in Canada before a vaccine becomes available.

“We know from history, those additional waves are often more deadly and widespread than the first. So even if Canada’s first curve flattens, we are far from through this.”

NWT has had five total cases of COVID-19 infection in their territory. On Monday, the government updated their data site to say all five individuals were now recovered.

NUNAVUT: The government of this eastern Arctic territory, through the Nunavut Development Corporation, will fund seamstresses to make 5,000 face masks, territorial Premier Joe Savikataaq said on Wednesday.

The masks will go to elders, non-medical first responders like firefighters, and Nunavut residents with health conditions that make them vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Five-hundred have also been earmarked for airplane passengers. (Transport Canada made nose and mouth coverings obligatory for air travel as of April 20.)

Nunavut remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, there were 235 people either waiting for test results, or experiencing symptoms that warranted self-monitoring for the coronavirus.

Nunavut Development Corporation is an equity investment body that’s part of the Nunavut government. It targets economic sectors like cultural production and tourism that employ large numbers of people in the territory.

NUNAVIK: Two more people have recovered from COVID-19 in the village of Puvirnituq, the health board in the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec announced on Thursday.

The most recent number brings total recoveries in the region to seven, one in the Hudson Strait community of Salluit and now, six total in the Hudson Bay community of Puvirnituq.

Four active cases remain.

22/04/2020 – 12h EDT

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a series of funding announcements on Wednesday to help young people weather the COVID-19 crisis, including $75.2 million specifically targeted to Inuit, First Nations and Métis students.

The money will be added to the existing distinctions-based education support that targets Indigenous students for the 2020-21 academic year.

In a news release, the federal government said it will also provide additional financial support to the eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Quebec, Canadian jurisdictions where student support programs differ from other regions of Canada. The government news release did not give details on what the additional support would entail.

21/04/2020 – 10h EDT

YUKON: This northwestern territory reported two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection on Monday, bringing total confirmed cases in the region to 11.

The two new cases are both in the capital city of Whitehorse and are related to what Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, described as “a cluster in Whitehorse that is associated with international travel.” 

Contact tracing is still underway, he said in a news release.

To date, eight people with COVID-19 infection have recovered in Yukon.

NUNAVUT: Municipalities will be getting an extra $2 million from the Department of Community and Government Services in this eastern Arctic territory to help cover COVID-19 related expenses, the government announced on Monday.

Among other things, the funding can cover everything from hiring additional janitorial and custodial staff, creating and translating signage related to the coronavirus or covering costs related to facility closures.

Nunavut remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19. As of Monday, there were 252 people either waiting for test results, or experiencing symptoms that warranted self-monitoring for the coronavirus.

20/04/2020 – 12h00 EDT

NUNAVIK: As of Sunday, the health board in the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec announced there’s now been a total of 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the region.

To date, five people have recovered.

The most recent case was reported in the community of Inukjuak on the Hudson Bay coast. It’s the first instance of the coronavirus in the village.

The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services  (NRBHSS) said in a Facebook post that the individual was already self-isolating when they received the diagnosis.

“While it can be discouraging to see that the virus has reached another community, it is important to remember that in the past week, four cases have recovered,” said Minnie Grey, the executive director of the (NRBHSS) in a news release.

(The fifth recovered case was in Salluit where the individual got the all-clear at the first week of April.)

The health board’s prior news release on April 13th announced an 11th case of the coronavirus. The NRBHSS did not immediately reply on Monday to a request for clarification on when the 12th and 13th cases in Nunavik were confirmed or details on which community they were in.

YUKON: On Friday, this territory in northwestern Canada announced one new case of COVID-19 infection, bringing total confirmed coronavirus cases in the region to 9.

The new case is in the capital city of Whitehorse and is related to international travel, Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Hanley said in an update posted on the government’s website.

As of Friday, seven people have recovered from the coronavirus, and no one has required hospitalization.

All of the COVID-19 cases to date have been in Whitehorse with only one occurring in a small rural community. Yukon, like the neighbouring Northwest Territories, has a policy of not naming rural communities where COVID-19 is identified, saying their small population would mean patient confidentiality could be easily violated.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): In response to the global shortage, a lab part of the NWT’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources will start producing hand sanitizer for frontline government workers, the government announced on Friday.

NWT’s Minister of Health and Social Services Diane Thom said the hand sanitizer produced by Taiga Environmental Laboratory (Taiga Labs) would go to the territory’s healthcare workers and airport staff or others who work directly with the public.

“Our frontline staff can now rest a little easier knowing one of the most essential goods in their workplaces is free from the whims of the global supply chain thanks to Taiga Labs,” Thom said in a news release.

Normally, Taiga Labs operates to do chemical analysis on things like water, soil and sewage.

NWT has had five total cases of COVID-19 infection in their territory. On Monday 9am local time, the government updated their data site to say all five individuals were now recovered.

NUNAVUT: The government of this eastern Arctic territory has cancelled the remainder of the 2019/2020 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision was made after discussion with the territory’s chief public health officer, the territorial Minister of Education David Joanasie said in a news release on Friday.

School staff are preparing learning packages so that students can continue learning at home. Joanasie said the territory’s technological limitations, especially in smaller communities, were being taken into consideration so learning packages would not be online only, and may be paper-based or activity-based as well.

For families already out on the land or at their hunting cabinets where it’s not possible to deliver learning packages, Joanasie said not to worry, saying that “hunting and fishing complement student learning, and that the department encourages these activities.” 

Nunavut remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19. As of Friday, there were 231 people either waiting for test results, or experiencing symptoms that warranted self-monitoring for the coronavirus.

CBC has created guides to each province and territory on “What to do if you think you have COVID-19”. CBC North is also compiling the latest cancellations and closures across the North.

For more news about the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada and its Arctic territories, visit CBC North.

17/04/2020 – 10h30 EDT

YUKON: Organizers of the Dawson City Music Festival, held each summer in central Yukon, have cancelled this year’s edition in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival was slated to go ahead July 17-19, and through March, organizers were optimistic about the chances the event would go ahead as usual. But in a statement posted on the event website on Thursday, organizers said even though the event was three months away, its remote location required preparations to start getting underway, but that they were not able to move ahead given the COVID-19 mitigation measures in place.

“Due to our unique northern location, many critical logistics must come together now, and several of our production needs come with strict timelines,” orgaziners said in a statement posted on their website on Thursday.

“Currently, gatherings are limited to 10 people, and folks arriving in Yukon must self-isolate for 14 days. Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has strongly recommended against non-essential travel to or from rural communities such as Dawson City, and we respect these essential measures. There is no clear timeline regarding when these restrictions will be lifted, and at this time it is not possible to gather under the midnight sun as we have done for 41 years.”

Normally, more than 1,000 people attend the festival, and organizers acknowledged the financial fallout the cancellation would have on the Dawson City economy and its population of 1,375.

“To our fellow business owners, tour operators, and frontline service workers in Dawson City, we sympathetically understand the economic impact that will be felt as a result of this decision,” they said.  “We wish it weren’t so.”  

As of Thursday at 7:00pm ET, Yukon had reported a total of 8 confirmed cases in this northwestern territory. Seven cases have been in the capital city of Whitehorse, with the remaining case in a rural community. (Yukon authorities are not identifying rural communities where COVID-19 infection occurs, saying their small population would compromise patient confidentiality.)

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): After weeks of push back against increasing community calls to restrict alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic, the territorial government put some restrictions in place on Thursday.

As of April 16, customers will be allowed to spend a maximum of $200 on alcohol a day, or purchase a maximum of six, 375 ml bottles of spirits.

The new regulations apply across the territory except in the community of Fort Simpson, where local leaders previously applied their own alcohol purchase restrictions at their local liquor store.

“These changes are being made in response to requests from Members of the Legislative Assembly, as well as community and Indigenous leaders across the territory, in an effort to deter bootlegging activity in the NWT’s communities,” the government said in a statement.

The territory’s smaller communities have repeatedly said alcohol is leading to parties and makes people less prone to following physical and social distancing requirements. Leaders have also said that bootleggers are taking advantage of people’s self-isolation and the COVID-19 crisis to hike prices and pedal illegal booze in remote regions.

NUNAVUT: This eastern Arctic territory extended its public health emergency on Thursday.

“Nunavut’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 have proven effective so far,” said Nunavut’s Health Minister George Hickes. “Now is not the time to relax measures or loosen our guidelines. We need to remain committed in order to protect our communities.”

Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19. As of Thursday, there were 231 people either waiting for test results, or experiencing symptoms that warranted self-monitoring for the coronavirus.

16/04/2020 – 10h00 EDT

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): The territorial government extended two emergency orders on Wednesday saying they were still needed to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

The renewed Public Health Emergency and the State of Emergency will now expire on April 28.

In a news release on Wednesday, the government said it made the decision on the recommendation of NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer Kami Kandola.

“These extensions are due to the continued need for response to the COVID-19 global pandemic to protect public health in the Northwest Territories,” the government said in a news release.

NWT has reported five total confirmed COVID-19 cases: three in Yellowknife, one in Inuvik and one in a smaller community, which authorities had declined to name, but was later revealed to be Fort Resolution by community members.

NWT authorities say all cases are travel related and that to date, there’s been no evidence of community transmission.

Kandola has previously said the greatest risk to NWT is the continued spread of the coronavirus in southern Canada, the hardest hit area of the country. She said COVID-19 restrictions are unlikely to be lifted in NWT until the situation in southern Canada is under control.

15/04/2020 – 10h00 EDT

NUNAVUT: Tuesday’s $129.9 million federal funding announcement to help the North fight COVID-19 is welcome, but doesn’t go far enough for Nunavut, the premier of this eastern Arctic territory said on Tuesday.

“Nunavut needs more, and we need it now,” Joe Savikataaq said in his premier’s update posted on the territorial government website. “Nunavut is chronically underfunded, and we cannot be expected to deal with this new global reality from behind the starting line. We see this as a solid foundation, and we will work with the Government of Canada to build on this initial investment into our territory during COVID-19.”

Of the announced monies, $35.8 million is earmarked for Nunavut’s health system, airlines, small businesses, and for Nutrition North, a national program that provides subsidies for healthy food, the territorial government said in a statement posted on their website.

Nunavut’s communities are fly-in only. Supporting the airlines alone is costing the territorial government $2.25 million a week since COVID-19 travel restrictions were put in place, Savikataaq said.

“We need more investment from the Government of Canada in this area,” he said. “Air travel is our only link between communities and the rest of Canada – it is vital that we maintain this service and ensure its viability after this pandemic.”

 

YUKON: Yukon Premier Sandy Silver says despite no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the territory since last week, it’s too soon for this northwestern region of Canada to consider rolling back COVID-19 containment measures.

“We still have a long road ahead of us in the fight against COVID-19,” Silver said in a news conference posted online.

“I look forward to the day I can sit here and say that (the COVID-19 restrictions) are ending. But we can’t do it until it’s safe.”

Yukon has had a total of eight confirmed COVID-19 cases. In an update on Tuesday, Brendan Hanley, the territory’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said six of eight people have now completely recovered.

Seven of the Yukon cases have been in the capital city of Whitehorse and one has been in a small rural community that the government refuses to name fearing that its small population would compromise patient confidentiality.

To date, all the Yukon coronavirus cases have have been the result of travel, or of being in close contact with an infected person.

14/04/2020 – 11h45 EDT

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced approximately $129.9 million to help northern communities cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

“These are tough times but we’re going to help you through them,” Trudeau said at a news conference on Monday.

The money will go towards everything the health care costs to support for northern airlines:

  • $72.6 million would go to Canada’s three northern territories: Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, to boost their health care systems and community preparedness.
  • $17.3 million to support northern airlines
  • $15 million to help northern businesses not already covered by government COVID-19 economic plans
  • $25 million to be put towards Nutrition North, a program that helps subsidize food costs in northern Canada.

As of Monday, Yukon was reporting eight total confirmed COVID-19 cases and the Northwest Territories was reporting 5 confirmed cases. The eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut is the only jurisdiction of Canada that continues to have zero confirmed or presumed cases of the coronavirus.

NUNAVIK: The health board in the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec announced a new case of COVID-19 late Monday bridging total confirmed cases in Nunavik to 11.

The new case was identified in the Hudson Bay community of Puvirnituq. The individual was already in isolation at the time of their diagnosis, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS) said in a news release.

Ten of Nunavik’s 11 confirmed  coronavirus cases have been in Puvirnituq. The other one was in the Hudson Strait community of Salluit.

In their Monday news release, the health board confirmed for the first time that all the Puvirnituq cases were linked, meaning that the infected people all had close contact with one another.

The board also said the most recent developments have prompted a change in Nunavik’s testing strategy.

Marie Rochette, the NRBHSS’s director of Public Health, said anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms and who has had close contact with a person confirmed to have the coronavirus, will no longer be tested and will automatically be considered a confirmed case.

13/04/2020 – 12h00 EDT

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): The territorial government put a series of new public health orders in place on Saturday in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

As of April 11, indoor gatherings across NWT have been banned. This covers everything from funerals and parties to religious services and feasts or any kind of meeting by people that don’t already live together.

NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer Kami Kandola also ordered that outdoor gatherings be limited to less than 10 people, and may only take place if physical distancing is observed.

Diane Thom, Minister of Health and Social Services said that the directives have been in place for weeks, but that a minority continued to ignore them and so it was time “to put legal weight behind them.” 

“So know that if you aren’t cancelling parties; if you’re still having friends over; if you’re not washing your hands, keeping six feet between each other, avoiding others as much as you can, and self-isolating if you feel sick at all, then you’re not doing your part,” Thom said in a statement posted on the government website on Friday.

“And if you don’t respond to education and warnings, we’re coming for you.”

On Friday, Kandola also ordered the closure of several types of businesses including tourism operators, bottle depots, fitness centers, museums and galleries, bars, theatres and dine-in restaurants, saying it had become clear physical distancing was not possible.

As of Sunday, NWT was reporting five total confirmed COVID-19 cases: three in Yellowknife, one in Inuvik and one in a smaller community, which authorities had declined to name, but was later revealed to be Fort Resolution by community members.

NUNAVIK: The health board in the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 infection since Friday, bringing total cases in Nunavik to ten.

In a news release on Friday evening, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services confirmed one new case in the Hudson Bay community of Puvirnituq, saying the individual had been hospitalized at the local Inuulitsivik Health Centre.

A second new case was confirmed on Saturday, also in Puvirnituq. The health board said the individual was recovering at home and that their family was already in isolation before the diagnosis was confirmed.

Then on Sunday night in a Facebook post, the health board announced three more cases in Puvirnituq, saying all patients were doing well and recovering at home.

The post gave no details on whether the new cases reported this weekend were related.

Except for one earlier COVID-19 case in the Hudson Strait community of Salluit, all of Nunavik’s confirmed coronavirus cases to date have been in Puvirnituq.

10/04/2020 – 9h30

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): The territorial government has decided liquor stores can stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying an alcohol ban could put even more pressure on the health system.

“Although closing liquor stores seems like it would remove dangerous behaviours, research tells us that removing access to alcohol is likely to create hardship for persons already struggling with addictions and potentially increase the burden on the NWT health care system at a time when its capacity to manage potential COVID-19 cases must be maintained,” said Caroline Wawzonek, NWT’s minister of finance, in a news release on Thursday.

On Friday, CBC North, the northern service of Canada’s public broadcaster, reported that community leaders had a mixed response to the news, with some saying they supported the decision, while others said alcohol in their communities was leading to large parties and social gatherings that risked spreading the coronavirus.

YUKON: Businesses hurt by COVID-19 mitigation measures can apply for government grants of up to $30,000 per month, the territorial government announced on Thursday.

The Yukon Business Relief Program funds and can help cover fixed costs like rent, insurance and utilities, and will be  available to businesses that have seen their revenue drop 30 per cent or more.

The program is expected to cost up to $10 million.

Previous Yukon programs put in place to help address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic include a paid sick leave program and an events funding program. Along with Thursday’s announcement, total program costs are expected to run $21.7 million.

NUNAVUT: This eastern Arctic territory remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19. As of Thursday, there were 376 people either waiting for test results, or experiencing symptoms that warranted self-monitoring for the coronavirus.

09/04/2020 – 10h00 EDT

YUKON: This northwestern territory reported its eighth confirmed COVID-19 infection on Wednesday, the first one identified outside of the capital city of Whitehorse.

The new case is linked with international travel and occurred in one of Yukon’s small rural communities. Yukon, like the neighbouring Northwest Territories, has a policy of not naming rural communities where COVID-19 is identified, saying their small population would mean patient confidentiality could be easily violated.

Four of the territory’s COVID-19 patients have fully-recovered. None of the coronavirus patients in Yukon have required hospitalization.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): A taskforce has been created to enforce COVID-19 public health orders and investigate non-compliance issues across the territory’s 33 communities the government announced on Wednesday.

“This is a public health emergency, and it’s the orders of the Chief Public Health Officer which will keep us safer, and slow the spread of this virus in our territory,” Diane Thom, NWT’s minister of Health and Social Services, said in a news release.

“Anyone who chooses not to get on the same team, follow the orders, and help keep our territory safe will be met with consequences.”

In separate statements, Thom, and NWT Premier Caroline Cochrane stressed the majority of territorial residents were complying with social and physical distancing directives, but that a minority still was not, something that continued to put communities in danger.

They also called on community leaders to remind their residents not to go out on the land in big groups and as well as reminding people that parties cannot be held.

As of Wednesday, NWT was reporting five total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, three in the capital city of Yellowknife, one in the Arctic town of Inuvik, and one in a smaller community, which authorities had declined to name, but was later revealed to be Fort Resolution by community members.

08/04/2020

YUKON: In-person classes will be cancelled for the remainder of the 2019/2020 school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced on Tuesday.

The decision was made upon the recommendation of the territory’s chief medical officer of health.

Yukon principals and teachers are being asked to develop ‘at-home’ learning plans for the rest of the year that can be delivered online or in-home. The learning plans will be tailored to respond to the needs of each individual school community. Educators are also working on how to deliver the plans to homes that do not have access to technology.

Schools have been closed since March 18, when Yukon declared a public health emergency.

Yukon has seven total confirmed cases of COVID-19, all in the capital city of Whitehorse. As of Tuesday, four people had fully recovered.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): Territorial Premier Caroline Cochrane took over the department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) on Tuesday saying she needed to take a more “hands-on role” in managing the COVID-19 crisis.

The move will make the Premier responsible for administering the Emergency Measures Act, put in place to respond to the pandemic, as well as leading NWT’s overall response to the crisis.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for the Northwest Territories that is unlike anything ever before experienced in the history of the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT),” the government said in a news release.

“Overseeing this collaborative effort is consistent with the Premier’s responsibilities in the Executive Establishment Policy to provide overall management and direction to the Executive Branch of the Government of the Northwest Territories.” 

Outgoing MACA Minister Paulie Chinna, will hold on to the Housing Corporation and Homelessness portfolios.

As of Tuesday, NWT was reporting five total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection.

NUNAVUT:  On Tuesday, the Department of Education gave the OK for teachers already in the territory to go back to school and start developing learning packages for students.

The department also said it expected teachers currently outside the territory to be back in their home communities by April 21 ready to resume teaching should schools be reopened, or, if the public health officer orders that schools remain shut, teachers will be expected to develop learning plans that can be delivered by other means than in-person teaching.

Nunavut remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday morning, there were 255 people either waiting for test results, or experiencing symptoms that warranted self-monitoring for the coronavirus.

07/04/2020

YUKON: As of Monday, Civil Emergency Measures Act Enforcement Officers have been posted at the borders of this northwestern territory, as well as at the airport in the capital city of Whitehorse, to make sure all travellers comply with COVID-19 containment measures. All travellers will be required to give the officers details of their 14-day self-isolation plans that authorities will then use to follow up.  People travelling through the territory to Alaska, the Northwest Territories or other places in Canada, will only be permitted to stay in Yukon for a maximum of 24 hours and are being asked to avoid all unnecessary contact with locals while transiting, including when shopping for food or fuel.

Authorities have also delayed opening Yukon’s parks and campgrounds until June.

Also on Monday, Yukon announced its seventh confirmed case of COVID-19. None of the cases have required hospitalization.  Four people have fully recovered and the other three are isolating at home.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): The territorial State of Emergency, put in place to respond to COVID-19, was extended on Monday. In a news release, the government said the decision was made to ensure public health orders could continue to be supported and enforced,  not because of an increased coronavirus risk to NWT residents.

As of Monday, NWT was reporting five confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection.

In other news, the Arctic community of Tuktoyaktuk, connected by a highway with the territory’s third most populated town of Inuvik, plans to set up a checkpoint outside the hamlet to turn aways visitors in an effort to prevent COVID-19 from coming to the community, CBC North reports.

NUNAVUT: This eastern Arctic territory remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19. As of Monday, April 6, there were 247 people either waiting for test results or experiencing symptoms that warranted self-monitoring for the coronavirus or self-isolation.

06/04/2020

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES: This Canadian territory announced its fifth confirmed COVID-19 case on Sunday. The most recent case is associated with international travel. The territory’s department of Health and Social Services said in a news release that minimal contact tracing would be necessary because in the case of the individual and their family “everything was done right,” they self-isolated immediately after the individual returned from Latin America and had food dropped off so they didn’t need to go out during their isolation period. The individual is now recovering at home.

YUKON: The government of this northwestern territory will distribute 325 cell phones to women at risk of in-home violence so they can call for help while self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Yukon Status of Women Council will work with local community groups to get the phones to the women who need them.

“Physical distancing and self-isolation measures mean that individuals may be required to stay in close quarters with someone who is violent,” the government said in a news release on Friday.  “The closure of some public spaces and community service agencies has limited the ability to access safe internet connections, which are key to getting support, contacting family and friends, accessing counselling and accessing financial support. Mobile phones with internet access will help address this need.”

As of Friday, Yukon had six total confirmed cases of COVID-19. Four patients have recovered and two are isolating at home. All cases have been travel related. None of the cases have required hospital treatment.

NUNAVUT: This eastern Arctic territory remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19. As of Friday, April 3, 216 people were  either waiting for test results or experiencing symptoms that warranted self-monitoring for the coronavirus or self-isolation.

On Friday, the territorial government and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the Inuit land claims organization in the territory, announced they’d give $1 million each to help community-based food programs for children and Elders during the pandemic.

NUNAVIK: Three new cases of COVID-19 infection were confirmed in the Hudson Bay community of Puvirnituq on Sunday, bringing total confirmed cases in the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec to five. One of the previous two cases was found in the community of Puvirnituq as well. The news release from the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services did not specify if the recent three cases were connected with the initial one.

All four Puvnirnituq patients are currently self-isolating in their homes. The first person diagnosed with the coronavirus in Nunavik was in the Hudson Strait community of Salluit, and has completely recovered, the health board said.

NATIONAL: Transport Canada has banned cruise ships from mooring, navigating or transiting Arctic waters until October 31, 2020, in an effort to prevent the exposure of northern Indigeous communities to COVID-19 infection.

The restrictions also apply to the waters around Nunavik, the Inuit region of northern Quebec, and the waters around Nunatsiavut, the Inuit region of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

03/04/2020

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): NWT reported two new cases of COVID-19 infection on Thursday night, bringing total cases in the territory up to four.

One of the people had returned to his or her small community and was later hospitalized in Yellowknife. (Public health authorities are not naming places in these circumstances in an effort to protect patient confidentiality in villages with small populations.) The individual arrived back in NWT from a trip in Canada on March 22 and self-isolated upon reaching their community, developing symptoms on March 26.

On Friday morning, Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory’s chief public health officer, said during a CBC’s The Trailbreaker call-in show that the individual had a pre-existing condition and was hospitalized at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.

“The latest information I received is that person is stable,” said Kandola. “There’s been no evidence there’s been a breach of transmission where the community would have been exposed.”

The second case is in the capital city of Yellowknife and is connected with international travel. The individual self-isolated immediately upon returning from Europe before they started developing symptoms. Public health officials say there is minimal contact investigation to do as the individual “did everything right by self-isolating immediately and limiting risk to others.”

As of March 21, NWT has required anyone arriving in the territory to self-isolate in one of the territory’s four biggest centres:  Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River, or Fort Smith, before travelling on to smaller communities where medical resources are limited.

Authorities are now investigating how the individual was able to avoid the 14-day self isolation in one of the designated centres and travel on directly to their small community.

YUKON: Travellers arriving by land or air will be required to check in with an enforcement officer and fill out a travel declaration before they’ll be allowed to enter this northwestern territory, the government announced on Thursday. In addition, any non-Yukon residents transiting through the territory to Alaska, the Northwest Territories or elsewhere in Canada will only be able to stay in Yukon for a maximum of 24 hours.

As of April 2, Yukon had six confirmed cases of COVID-19, all in the capital city of Whitehorse. On Thursday, the government advised residents of the territory’s rural communities to limit their visits to Whitehorse as much as possible. It also suggested that neighbours try to organize so that one person could go into Whitehorse to get groceries or supplies for the group and reduce the risk of rural communities to coronavirus exposure.

NUNAVUT: On Thursday, this eastern Arctic territory extended its Public Health Emergency until April 16.

“We want to maintain all our efforts to stay prepared and vigilant,” said Nunavut’s Minister of Health George Hickes in a news release.  “I am confident we are taking the right steps to protect Nunavummiut [Ed: residents of Nunavut] and this extension will allow us to continue on this path.”  

Nunavut remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19.

NUNAVIK: All passenger flights in and out of the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, and between its 14 communities, have been cancelled indefinitely as of Friday in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

The measure was announced after a second case of the coronavirus was confirmed in Nunavik on Wednesday.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” said Marie Rochette, director at the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, in a news release on Thursday.  “We strongly believe it is the best way to reduce the risk of community transmission. Collectively, we have to work together to protect elders and the more vulnerable members of all the communities.”

Nunavik’s communities are all fly-in only. The only air transport that will still be allowed will be cargo flights, flights transporting patients to medical appointments, or flights transporting essential workers like health care professionals or police.

On Friday, the Canadian government accepted a request from the province of Quebec on behalf of Nunavik’s regional government, to have local reserve forces in the communities assist in setting up medical supplies if needed.

Also on Friday, the Canadian government announced $100 million dollars on Friday to help organizations, including Food Banks Canada, Breakfast Club and the Salvation Army get food to those that need it, including in Indigenous and northern communities.

02/04/2020 

YUKON: This northwestern territory confirmed its sixth case of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Brendan Hanley says the most recent case was linked with international travel. None of the Yukon coronavirus infections have required hospitalization. All of Yukon’s coronavirus cases to date have been in the capital city of Whitehorse. Three people have now recovered, the government said in a news release.

The territorial government also gave further details about its March 16 economic stimulus package to help businesses negatively affected by coronavirus mitigation measures. On Wednesday, the government announced that part of the money would go to businesses who’d suffered losses resulting from the cancellation of events over 50 people like the Arctic Winter Games and the Yukon Native Hockey Tournament.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): The territorial government has extended its Public Health Emergency for another 14-days, the maximum it can be prolonged at a time, upon the recommendation of NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer Kami Kandola after a second case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the territory on Wednesday.

NUNAVIK: The health authority in the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec announced a second case of COVID-19 infection on Wednesday. The Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services has not said which community the new case is in. The previous case was identified in the Hudson Strait community of Salluit. A Nunavik-wide curfew has been in place since March 29 to help contain the coronavirus’ spread.

“We ask for everyone’s collaboration in complying with the municipal curfews,” said Minnie Grey, the executive director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, in a news release on Wednesday. “It is for everyone’s protection.”

01/04/2020

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (NWT): NWT Chief Medical Officer of Health Kami Kandola confirmed a second COVID-19 case Wednesday at 4 p.m. EDT. This is the first case in the town of Inuvik. The person returned from a trip to the province of British Columbia on March 21 and isolated him/herself upon return as required by the territorial directive.

Inuvik is approximately 100km above the Arctic Circle. The population is about one third Gwich’in (one of the Canada’s Indigenous First Nations), one third Inuvaluit (a western Arctic Inuit group) and one-third from other regions of Canada and the world.

The territorial government announced a new $8.258 million package on Tuesday to help cushion the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Katrina Nokleby, NWT’s Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment said the current round of funding would go towards income assistance, emergency housing as well as the aviation industry.

Tuesday’s announcement brings NWT’s total COVID-19 support measures to $21.459 million.

Nokleby said the government was also working on ways to involve northern and Indigenous businesses in the COVID-19 response in order to keep them afloat. Ideas being explored include using northern companies to ensure the supply chain, provide decontamination services, or provide personal protective equipment.

As of 6:30pm ET on Tuesday, NWT had one confirmed case of COVID-19. The total population of the territory is 44,720.

NUNAVUT: Upon the advice of its chief public health officer, the government of this eastern Arctic territory has extended school closures until April 20, it said in a news release on Tuesday.

The same day, the territory’s education department launched a “learn-at-home” website that can be used by children, youth, parents or caregivers that will be regularly updated throughout the pandemic crisis. In addition to offering educational materials for all ages and grades, it also includes sections on stress relief tips for navigating the coronavirus crisis and self-isolation measures.

As of 6:30pm ET, Nunavut remained the only jurisdiction in Canada with no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19, but territorial Premier Joe Savikataaq warned Nunavut residents not to let their guard down.

This does not mean that we get to be careless or relaxed about social and physical distancing, handwashing and staying home,” he said in a statement. “We need to stay alert and focused.”

March 2020

31/03/2020 

YUKON: Canada’s northwesternmost territory has five confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 3pm local time March 30. All cases are in the capital city of Whitehorse. No case has required hospitalization and all five affected individuals are resting at home and doing well,  Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Brendan Hanley, said in a statement on Monday.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES: The territorial government announced two “Protect Our Elders” campaigns on Monday to remind people about the importance of staying home, maintaining physical distance and other coronavirus mitigation measures, in order to protect people over 70, a population that can be hard hit by the COVID-19 infection.

“Our goal is to build solidarity during the COVID-19 crisis, and get residents to recognize that changing behaviors isn’t just about them – it’s about the people they love, and our most vulnerable community-members,” the government said in a news release.

One campaign is encouraging people to post messages on their social media about the importance of protecting elders. The other campaign is encouraging people to create short radio ads promoting hand washing, physical distancing and staying at home. Music NWT, a territorial non-profit organization, will give awards to the top entries. People can enter here.

NUNAVUT: As of 8am ET on March 31, anyone violating mandatory 14-day self-isolation orders from a health officer or a public health official in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut can be subject to a $50,000 fine or up to six months in prison.

Nunavut is still the only province or territory in the country that still had no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 in its jurisdiction as of Monday at 3pm ET.

30/03/2020

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES: The government of Canada’s Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the federal Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) department announced $2.6 million on Monday to help Indigenous families set up out on the land at their hunting cabins to help maintain physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Physical distancing has been shown to be among the most effective measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But the majority of Canada’s northern Indigenous communities have a severe housing shortage meaning most residences are already overcrowded.

A joint news release from NWT and ISC said many families had already moved to their hunting cabins to help maintain physical distancing not possible in their home communities, but that many families cannot afford the wood, fuel and transportation costs to do the same.

It’s hoped the “At Home On The Land” initiative announced Monday will now allow anyone that wants to physically distance by going out on the land to do so.

“We know that our communities are at higher risk during this unprecedented pandemic,” said Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya in a news release.  (The Dene are one of the Indigenous nations in Canada’s NWT)

“Elders and knowledge keepers have always told us ‘a day will come, when we will need to go to the land’ and now is that time. Our people are remarkably strong and powerful, and we will do what is required to keep each other safe. Being on the land is our way of life. With the closing of the schools, this is also an opportunity for families and their children to learn more about our culture and traditions and what has sustained us as Dene people for thousands of years. I commend both the GNWT and ISC for swiftaction and prioritizing the health and well-being of the Dene Nation.”

As of Monday at 11:15am ET, there was one confirmed case of COVID-19 in NWT.

NUNAVIK: The Inuit region of Arctic Quebec confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Saturday in the village of Salluit. A region-wide curfew has been put in place in response and snowmobile traffic between communities has been prohibited.

27/03/2020

On Friday at 6 p.m. (Eastern time), the Government of the Yukon territory, in the northwestern part of Canada, announced a fourth case of COVID-19 infection and declared a state of emergency in the territory. The individual in question is, like the other three cases, located in the capital city of Whitehorse.

Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Brendan Hanley said the new case was expected, and suggested that there could be more confirmed cases before the end of the weekend.

The neighbouring Northwest Territories still only has one case.  The government of the territory announced on Friday that it has also declared a state of emergency under the Emergency Management Act. This new measure mainly gives more power, resources and flexibility to the government of the Northwest Territories in the event of a larger COVID-19 crisis in the territory.

The territory of Nunavut, located in the eastern Arctic, still has no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

27/03/2020 – 10h00 EDT

Canada’s national Inuit organization will receive $45 million from an Indigenous Community Support Fund to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, along with regional Inuit organizations, will then allocate the money between Canada’s four Inuit land claim organizations, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said in a news release on Thursday.

There are four Inuit regions in Canada: the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in Canada’s Northwest Territories; Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut; Nunavik in northern Quebec; and Nunatsiavut, in the Atlantic Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Miller also announced  $215 million for First Nations that will be allocated based on each First Nation’s population, remoteness and community needs.

Many Indigenous communities in Canada’s North are fly-in only and are served by small nursing stations. Most communities also have a lack of housing with many people living in overcrowded conditions. Since the pandemic was declared, Indigenous leaders in the North have been sounding the alarm on the impact COVID-19 would have on their communities, saying their already limited health care resources would be easily overwhelmed.

The announced federal funding can be used to support elders, children and vulnerable community members; for prevention of the coronavirus; to address food insecurity or to offer mental health assistance and emergency response preparedness among other initiatives.

In other news, the Yukon government passed new regulations on Thursday that prevent evictions for the next 90 days if people have to self-isolate or cannot pay rent because of circumstances relating to COVID-19.  The government has also established a paid sick leave program for workers or the self-employed who don’t have sick leave but have to stay home because of illness or because they have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Yukon is also waiving all airport landing, parking and loading fees in the territory from April 1 to December 31, 2020, in order to help the aviation industry.

CBC has created guides to each province and territory on “What to do if you think you have COVID-19”. CBC North is also compiling the latest cancellations and closures across the North.

For more news about the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada and its Arctic territories, visit CBC North.

26/03/2020

YUKON: The government of Canada’s northwestern Yukon territory has established a business advisory council to help navigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it announced on Wednesday.

The council is made up of 20 business people and stakeholders from all parts of the territorial economy. It will advise Yukon’s Department of Economic Development on strategies to help mitigate the economic fallout from COVID-19.

The council is expected to last six months, but will be prolonged if required.

As of 6pm ET on March 25, there were three confirmed COVID-19 cases in Yukon.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES: The education minister and education leaders in Canada’s Northwest Territories (NWT) are recommending that the school year be cancelled entirely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, they said the public health emergency, along with the related travel restrictions and physical distance requirements, had convinced them schools should be closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

They said they are continuing to discuss ways they could continue offering educational programming and are looking to other jurisdictions in Canada for ideas.

Meal programs, counselling and health and wellness programming are areas the education authorities said were “essential” saying they are working on ways to continue providing those services during school closures.

As of Wednesday at 6pm ET, there were 1 confirmed COVID-19 infection in NWT.

NUNAVUT: As of Wednesday at 6pm ET,  Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut still had no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19, but Premier Joe Savikataaq reiterated his calls for social distancing, even in the territory’s smaller communities.

Nunavut has a population of approximately 36,000 people that live in 25 different fly-in communities. Most communities have no resident doctor and are served by small nursing stations. Population size varies greatly from 198 people in Resolute, to approximately 7, 740 people in the capital city of Iqaluit.

I’ve had questions about whether people in our smaller communities need to practice social and physical distancing,” Savikataaq said in a statement posted on the government website on Wednesday. “The answer is ABSOLUTELY YES. It’s vital that everyone do this. COVID-19 does not discriminate in any way, including community size.

The territorial government has instituted a series of measures to keep COVID-19 infection out of the region including a travel restrictions for most people, and the closure of schools and daycares.

Nunavut is the only one of Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories to still have no confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases in its jurisdiction.

NUNAVIK: The Court of Quebec has suspended the itinerant court to Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nunavik has a population of 13,000 people. There are 14 communities in the region and  all are fly-in only. They’re served by an itinerant court flown up from southern Quebec.

The suspension is in effect until May 4th, 2020.

Until that time, any emergency hearings will take place by videoconference or telephone.

25/03/2020 

YUKON: Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Brendan Hanley has confirmed a third case of COVID-19 in the northwestern territory. It is related to travel outside of Yukon and the individual is doing well at home, said Haily. He added that contact tracing had already begun.  The two other confirmed cases are in Yukon’s capital city of Whitehorse.

Hanley also announced that Yukon hospitals were suspending all non-urgent or routine services from Thursday, March 26. Yukoners should not go to a hospital for a non-urgent service, treatment or exam at this time, specified Hanley.  The Chief Medical Officer of Health also announced that the respiratory assessment centre in Whitehorse was now open to support people with acute respiratory illness such as influenza or COVID-19 who need medical assessment.

NUNAVIK: The school board in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, has ended the school year.

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq made the announcement in a news release Tuesday evening in light of the recent province-wide restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent days, provincial exams have been cancelled, the Kativik Regional Government has banned travel to Nunavik, and Quebec Premier François Legault announced school closures would be extended to May 1.

The board says students will not be penalized for the shortened school year.  As per the provincial Ministry of Education guidelines, students will be evaluated based on their grades accumulated up until school was stopped.

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq says it’s working to prepare educational materials that families can access at home.

Nunavik has a population of 13,000 people and is made up of 14 fly-in only communities. The vast majority of teachers in the region come up from southern Canada to work on contract. The school board is now working to get 150 staff out of Nunavik to return home down South.

Some teachers and staff were already down South for the March school break. Kativik Ilisarniliriniq says it’s also working on how to get their personal effects to them from the Arctic.

NUNAVUT:  As of 6pm ET Tuesday, the eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut was the only one of Canada’s provinces or territories to still have no confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases in its jurisdiction. Elsewhere in the North, the Northwest Territories has one confirmed case in its capital city of Yellowknife.

24/03/2020

NUNAVIK – Nunavik prohibits all air travel for non-essential passengers – with exceptions – in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the northern Quebec region.

The ban takes effect on Tuesday, March 24, according to the Nunavik-Regional Emergency Preparedness Advisory Committee.

People working in essential services, such as police officers, health care workers, maintenance crews and others specified by the committee, will still be able to travel to the region.

Scheduled cargo planes and the shipment of supplies to all communities, including medical equipment, are maintained. Travel for medical appointments will also be respected.

All authorized passengers will be screened for the virus before boarding. However, people who have travelled outside Canada in the past 14 days or who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who have cold or flu symptoms will be prohibited from flying to Nunavik, even if they are considered essential workers, specified the press release.

NUNAVUT – This measure follows Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut decision to put a series of travel restrictions in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that will take effect Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59pm.

From that time on, only Nunavut residents and critical workers will be permitted to travel into the region. However, they must observe a mandatory 14-day isolation period in southern Canada before flying to the territory.

The only exception is critical workers that have written permission from Nunavut’s chief public health officer.

For Nunavut students studying elsewhere in Canada, but who wish to return to their home communities, the government is currently organizing two facilities in southern Canada, one in the city of Ottawa, and one in the city of Winnipeg, where students can observe the 14-day self-isolation period before getting charter planes back to the territory.

As of 3pm ET Monday, there were no confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.

YUKON – Elsewhere in the North, Canada’s Yukon territory, which as of Monday at 6pm ET had two confirmed cases, is now offering health care appointments by either telephone or internet in order to help maintain social distancing. The list of Yukon doctors set up for telehealth, and instructions for how to access the appointments, are available here.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES – Canada’s Northwest Territories still has only one confirmed case of COVID-19 according to the latest Health Canada update at 6pm ET on Monday. The patient is in the capital city of Yellowknife.

23/03/2020

Three COVID-19 cases were reported in Canada’s North over the weekend, marking the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in this region of the country.

Yukon – Canada’s northwestern most territory reported two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, both in the capital city of Whitehorse. Both people were from the same household and had recently returned from travel in the United States, the government said in a news release. Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Hanley said the risk level to Yukoners has not been changed. Both individuals had self-isolated immediately upon returning home and notified health authorities for testing when they started experiencing symptoms. Hanley said their illnesses are mild and both continue to self-isolate at home.

Hanely also stressed the need to protect the areas of Yukon that have limited medical resources and urged the suspension of any non-essential travel to Yukon’s rural communities.

Northwest Territories (NWT) – The first case of COVID-19 was reported in the territory on Friday. As of Saturday at noon, KamI Kandola, the chief public health officer of the territory, issued an order prohibiting non-residents of NWT from travelling to the region with some exceptions such as workers involved in maintaining the supply chain, essential service providers and people on medical travel from Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. People involved in traditional hunting and land activities will also still be permitted to cross the territorial borders as long as they stay away from entering NWT communities.

Kandola also issued an order that all NWT residents returning to the territory must self-isolate for 14 days in one of the territory’s four biggest centres (either the city of Yellowknife, or the towns of Fort Smith, Hay River, or Inuvik) before returning to any of the territory’s smaller communities where medical resources are limited.

Nunavut – Nunavut will close its borders to everyone except residents and essential workers, the Chief Medical Officer of Health announced Monday. Residents of Canada’s northeastern territory who wish to enter the territory will have to undergo 14 days of isolation before boarding the plane.

This measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the territory will come into effect as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, the Government of Nunavut said in a news release.

On Monday afternoon, Nunavut remained the only jurisdiction in the country without a confirmed case of COVID-19. In the territorial government’s update on Friday, it announced the closure of Nunavut Arctic College Community Learning Centres and Campuses, the suspension of all research at the Nunavut Research Institute and that the courthouse in the capital city of Iqaluit would be closed to the public as of Monday, March 23.

20/03/2020

The chief medical officer of Canada’s northwestern Yukon territory announced a set of sweeping measures on Friday to help ready the territorial health system to respond to any eventual COVID-19 cases.

As of Friday at 4pm eastern time, Health Canada was reporting no confirmed or probable cases of the coronavirus in the territory, but the announced measures will allow the system to respond rapidly if the situation changes, a news release said.

Whitehorse General Hospital, located in Yukon’s capital of Whitehorse, will suspend all scheduled, non-urgent surgery from March 23. Urgent and emergency surgeries will continue as usual.

Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Brendan Hanley also reminded Yukoners that no visitors were allowed at any of the territory’s three hospitals with limited exceptions, and that screening procedures had been put in place to enforce the rule.

Day care and child care services are an essential service and will remain open as long as possible.

They provide access to social supports particularly for vulnerable children and families and for parents who are themselves providing essential services to help keep Yukoners safe,” Hanley said in a news release.  “Daycare operators have been briefed on safe social distancing measures within a daycare environment.

Friday’s announcements come the day after the Government of Yukon announced it would set up a respiratory assessment centre in Whitehorse for people with respiratory illnesses like influenza or COVID-19 who need medical assessment.

Along with Yukon, the Government of the Northwest Territories announced $13.2 million in funding to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

This financial assistance will, among other things, allow businesses to benefit from low interest rates on their loans to help them better adjust to the consequences of COVID-19 on their operations over the coming month.

These two territories, as well as the eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, have not reported any confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 as of Friday afternoon. There are 945 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the 10 southern Canadian provinces.

In a morning press conference, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan that would have Canadian manufacturers help ramp up production of supplies needed to fight the coronavirus including masks, ventilators and hand sanitizer.

He said the association representing auto parts manufacturers had already been in touch with the government about converting their factories to produce medical equipment.

19/03/2020 

The federal government will help Indigenous leaders and communities adapt and activate plans for their communities to prevent and fight the spread of COVID-19, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Thursday as he sought to reassure Canada’s First Nation, Metis and Inuit communities.

Speaking during the daily press conference of cabinet ministers and federal officials who are spearheading Canada’s response to the pandemic, Miller vowed that “no community will be left behind.”

We’re here to mobilize supplies, we’re here to address the vulnerabilities of Indigenous communities and recognize that we can only do this in collaboration with Indigenous leadership across this country,” Miller said.

In response to the emergence of COVID-19, the federal government has begun proactively putting in place measures to plan emergency interventions in Indigenous and remote communities, he said.

We can’t shy away from the fact that Indigenous Peoples in Canada are more vulnerable than non-Indigenous Canadians,” Miller said.

We saw this during H1N1, we saw this during SARS, we’ve learned from those events but the reality remains that Indigenous people in Canada experience more overcrowding, a higher burden of chronic disease and some live in highly remote and isolated parts of this country.”

Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Theresa Tam said First Nations, Inuit and Metis are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 given health inequities, higher rates of underlying medical conditions and unique health challenges faced by remote and fly-in-fly-out communities.

Miller said the federal officials  in collaboration with Indigenous leaders have examined Indigenous pandemic plans, stocked supplies and evaluated health care demands.

The $100 million the government announced for areas of federal responsibility “will go a long way” in ensuring that critical needs of Indigenous communities are met, Miller said.

We invite communities to submit requests to their regional networks to access funds which will be distributed in line with health advice and based on need,” Miller said.

This funding will also further enable the provision of supplies and nursing capacity in communities, the minister added.

In addition on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government will be investing $305 million to help Indigenous communities deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding is part of a broader $82 billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses deal with the fallout from COVID-19 announced by Trudeau.

This funding will also enable Indigenous organizations and communities to make their own decisions where critical support is needed to address this public health emergency,” Miller said.

All three of Canada’s northern territories – Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon –  declared public health emergencies Wednesday.

Every Canadian has a role to play in reducing the opportunities for the virus to spread, Tam said.

To get through this health crisis we need to support each other, find ways to practice social distancing in different contexts and to protect and to protect our elders and seniors, and those with medical conditions,” Tam said. “The measure of a society is how it protects its most vulnerable.

Collective resolve to overcome COVID-19 must be solid and unbendable, she added.

We don’t just need to flatten the curve, we need to plank it,” Tam said. “We need everyone – from government to communities, families and individuals to work together. We all have to get it right and get it right right now, because the price of not doing so is too high.

Canada has registered 772 cases and 9 deaths related to COVID-19 as of Thursday, Tam said.

18/03/2020 

Canada’s all three northern territories – Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon – declared a state of public health emergency Wednesday as they sought to stop the growing COVID-19 pandemic from reaching the vulnerable northern and Indigenous communities.

There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of the three territories.

The declaration of the public health emergency in Yukon means schools are closed until at least April 14, all indoor public recreation facilities will be closed, and all three hospitals will be closed to visitors with limited exceptions.

Yukon has no confirmed cases at this time, but the threat is real and COVID-19 in the North is inevitable,” said in a statement Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. “By taking these precautions now, we have the ability to limit its spread. We are taking the necessary incremental steps to save lives and ensure the sustainability of our health-care systems.

NWT Minister of Health and Social Services Diane Thom said the purpose of calling an emergency is to allow the territory’s chief public health officer to take “strong, binding actions to protect all Northwest Territories residents, and swiftly respond to the daily-evolving needs of the healthcare system as it tackles a pandemic.

This is the right step to take to protect all Northwest Territories residents from the spread of COVID-19,” Thom said in a statement. “Nothing is off-the-table when it comes to keeping our residents safe, and our healthcare system strong.

Nunavut’s Minister of Health George Hickes said declaring a public health emergency allows it to be coordinated with efforts across the territories and Canada.

If we don’t take this measure now before we see cases in Nunavut, it may be too late as time goes on,” Hickes said.

Effective Friday, March 20 and until further notice, restaurants will be take-out only, with no more than 10 people in a line-up at any time, Hickes said. All bars will close.

Taxis will be limited to one pick-up per fare.

Food centres and soup kitchens across the territory can remain open for five days to lessen impacts to food security, Hickes said.

The authorities will provide them with take-out containers to be able to prepare meals for take away, he added.

We need to everyone to work together, and practice social distancing to reduce the spread,” Hickes said. “It is critical that we do this to protect one another. Stay home as much as possible. Wash your hands often. Let’s flatten the curve in Nunavut, and be patient and kind, and take care of each other.

The announcement came hours after Ottawa and Washington announced that they have agreed to temporarily shut their land border to “non-essential traffic,” in a new effort to reduce travel and stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

This includes Canada’s 2,477-kilometre border with Alaska along the Yukon Territory and northern British Columbia.

The measure was announced in a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump, who described the move as a temporary measure taken by “mutual consent.”

Speaking to reporters from self-isolation at his home in Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said travellers will no longer be allowed to cross the border for recreation and tourism.

In both our countries we’re encouraging people to stay home, we’re telling our citizens to not visit their neighbours if they don’t absolutely have to,” Trudeau said. “This collaborative and reciprocal measure is an extension of that prudent approach.

Essential travel will continue, said Trudeau, who’s working from home after his wife tested positive for COVID-19.

Our governments recognize that it’s critical that we preserve supply chains in both countries,” Trudeau said.

These supply chains ensure that food, fuel and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border.

However, it’s not clear yet when the measure will come into effect.

The Prime Minister’s Office told CBC News they are still negotiating the start date and will have it “soon.”

On Monday, Canada shut its border to almost all foreign nationals and non-residents, with the exception of U.S. citizens, to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

The U.S. has also imposed a range of measures to limit the entrance of foreign nationals from areas hard hit by the coronavirus, including China and Europe.

Trudeau had been under increasing pressure domestically to shut down the 8,891-kilometre border with the U.S. to non-essential travellers given the much faster pace of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.

Trudeau said it was essential to preserve the $2-billion daily trade between the two countries.

U.S. goods and services trade with Canada totalled an estimated $718.5 billion US ($1 trillion Cdn)  in 2018, according to the U.S. Trade Representative.

Trudeau also announced a massive $82-billion ($56.5 billion US) aid package on Wednesday to help Canadians and businesses struggling with the economic impact of the global pandemic.

The package includes $27 billion ($18.6 billion US) in direct income supports and wage subsidies, and another $55 billion ($37.9 billion US) to help business liquidity through tax deferrals.

Trudeau said the 82-billion-aid package represents more than three per cent of Canada’s GDP.

The measures include temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefit payments to parents and introducing an Emergency Care Benefit of up to 900 Canadian dollars bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave.

Ottawa also announced that Canadian businesses will be allowed to defer taxes owed to the federal government to the end of August and small businesses will get temporary wage subsidies for up to three months.

This wide-ranging support will help ensure Canadians can pay for rent and groceries, and help businesses continue to pay their employees and their bills during this time of uncertainty,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau said the cabinet is also deliberating whether to invoke the Emergencies Act, which would grant the federal government sweeping powers to regulate the movement of people and goods within the country, and introduce other emergency measures.

As of Wednesday, there were at least 645 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, and more than 200,000 globally.

For more news about the COVID-19 outbreak in Canada and its Arctic territories, visit CBC North.

17/03/2020 

A package of financial support is on the way to help millions of Canadians and businesses get through the COVID-19 crisis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday as he acknowledged that no one knows how long the crisis will last.

The minority Liberal government is looking at temporarily recalling Parliament to bring in emergency economic measures, Trudeau said during a news conference outside his residence at Rideau Cottage, in Ottawa, where he is currently in self-isolation after his wife was diagnosed with COVID-19.

There are economic pieces that will need quick passage in order to support Canadians,” Trudeau said. “We are also examining the Emergency Measures Act to see if it is necessary or if there are other ways that will enable us to take the actions needed to protect people.

Trudeau reminded Canadians that everyone has a responsibility and a role to play in containing the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing measures that include avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people and working from home where possible.

Parks Canada will also be closing visitor services at all of its national parks, museums and heritage sites, Trudeau said.

The federal government will be looking at other measures to contain the spread of the virus and to support Canadians through the ongoing crisis, Trudeau said.

We don’t know exactly how long this is going to take, whether it takes weeks or months,” the prime minister said.

But we know that every step of the way, we will be there to support each other.

Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Canadians needed to act decisively and quickly to cushion the impact of the outbreak.

Tam said there are now over 180,000 cases of COVID-19 in 160 countries, including over 450 cases in Canada as of Tuesday.

While most of the cases in Canada are travel related, Canadian health officials are particularly concerned about three cases in Ontario that are being investigated as possible community transmission cases, Tam said.

Several cases are also related to a large dental conference in Vancouver that was attended by more than 15,000 people, Tam said.

16/03/2020

Canada closes borders to foreign nationals amid coronavirus outbreak

Canada is shutting its border to almost all foreign nationals and non-residents with the exception of U.S. citizens to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday.

There will be some exceptions for immediate family members of Canadian citizens, diplomats, air crews, and other essential personnel, Trudeau said as he addressed the media on the steps of his Ottawa residence.

Trudeau, who is working from home after his wife tested positive for COVID-19, said airlines will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every air traveller based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Airlines will be formally mandated to prevent all travellers who present symptoms of COVID-19 to board a plane, Trudeau said.

This means that anyone who has symptoms will not be able to come to Canada,” Trudeau said.

While acknowledging that “this news will spark concern among Canadians travelling abroad,” Trudeau sought to reassure them by vowing that Ottawa “will not leave you unsupported.

To help asymptomatic Canadians to return home, the federal government will set up a support program for Canadians who need to get on a plane, he said.

Canadian travellers will be able to get financial assistance to help them with the costs of returning home or temporarily covering basic needs while they wait to come back to Canada, Trudeau added.

In the meantime, Trudeau called on Canadians travelling abroad to immediately return home while commercial flights are still available.

Let me be clear: if you are abroad, now is the time to come home,” Trudeau said. “If you’ve just arrived, you must self-isolate for 14 days.

In order to better screen arriving passengers, starting on March 18, only four Canadian airports will be accepting international flights: Toronto Pearson Airport, Montreal-Trudeau Airport, Vancouver International Airport, and Calgary International Airport, Trudeau said.

However, “at this time,” domestic flights as well as flights coming from the US, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon will not be affected, he added.

These are exceptional circumstances calling for exceptional measures,” Trudeau said, urging Canadians to stay home.

However, the travel restrictions announced by the federal government will not apply to commerce or trade, he said.

We will continue to ensure the supply of important goods to Canada,” Trudeau said.

Government officials were grilled by reporters over Ottawa’s reluctance to close the border to U.S. citizens despite the rapidly expanding coronavirus outbreak there.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the decision to keep the border open to Americans was made to reflect the integration of the two economies and social ties between the two countries, and to maintain essential supply lines for things like food.

That border is absolutely vital to the daily lives of the people who live on both sides of that border,” she said.

Everyone arriving in Canada from another country is being asked to self-isolate for 14 days. The only exception is for essential workers, including air crews and truck drivers, Freeland said.

Canada’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the new measures are necessary to slow the spread of the virus in Canada.

Tam said there are now more than 175,000 cases around the world, including 407 in Canada.

There have been four deaths in Canada.

All Canadians must act now to interrupt chains of transmission,” she said.

Trudeau urged Canadians to stay in touch with each other while they adapt to new social distancing realities.

Pick up the phone. Write an email. FaceTime,” Trudeau said. “So, call your friends. Check in with your family. Think of your community.

Trudeau said the government plans to announce additional measures as early as tomorrow to support Canadians.

Trudeau also acknowledged that in Canada’s decentralized federal system “provinces and territories are facing different realities and risks, which means taking steps that make sense for people in each area.

The federal government needs to keep building “an aligned, Canada-wide approach,” he said.

We have been in constant communication with the provinces and territories so that there are no barriers between our jurisdictions during this critical time,” Trudeau said.

During the meeting, I spoke to Premiers about the billion dollar COVID-19 Response Fund our government has put in place, which includes support for provinces and territories, and their healthcare systems so hospitals can prepare.

The COVID-19 Response Fund also includes support for Indigenous communities, he said.

Trudeau said he spoke with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation leaders on Friday to discuss preparedness and mitigation efforts in remote Indigenous and northern communities.

Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal has also been in touch with the territories and is working on exceptional measures to protect the North, Trudeau said.

We are making sure that everyone – no matter where they live – is prepared,” Trudeau said.

16/03/2020 

In a rare display of unity, Canada’s House of Commons put aside partisan wrangling and voted unanimously Friday to suspend its session until April 20, in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

At a press conference in Ottawa, federal officials announced a host of other new measures designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam urged Canadians to cancel and postpone all non-essential travel outside of Canada.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the federal government will ban visits by large cruise ships carrying more than 500 passengers to Canada until at least July 1.

Large cruise ship visits to the Canadian Arctic will be banned for the entire 2020 season, Garneau said.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair  said the federal government plans to beef up border controls and inspections and to limit arrivals of overseas flights to a smaller number of airports to ensure better screening of arriving passengers.

All travellers returning from overseas trips will be asked to isolate themselves for 14 days. Travellers returning from Italy, Hubei province of China and Iran will be placed under mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Addressing COVID-19 must be a team Canada effort,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The vote in the House of Commons came hours after Trudeau announced that he was going into self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, tested positive for Covid-19 following a trip to London.

Speaking to reporters outside his home in Ottawa, Trudeau said he was feeling well and had no symptoms of the flu-like virus. He will remain in self-isolation for 14 days, Trudeau said. His wife will also remain in isolation for the time being, Trudeau added.

Canada’s provinces and territories are going to be facing various levels of risk but the federal government will make sure that the response across the country is aligned, Trudeau said.

To keep Canadians safe, to mitigate the economic impact of the virus all levels of government are working together,” Trudeau said. “We’re talking regularly, we’re coordinating our efforts, we’re following the situation very closely and we’re pulling out all the stops.

Canada is in the enviable position of having “significant fiscal firepower” available to support its citizens, Trudeau said.

Noone should have to worry about paying rent, buying groceries, or additional childcare because of COVID-19,” Trudeau said. “We will help Canadians financially.

The federal government will be introducing a “significant fiscal stimulus package” in the coming days, Trudeau added.

On Thursday, the national Inuit organization in Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, called for Inuit to be considered a special, high-risk group in federal response planning and implementation regarding COVID-19.

Inuit are a high-risk group in general for respiratory infections, including tuberculosis,” ITK said in a statement. “Long-standing social and economic inequities mean that Inuit communities could be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and should be a priority for allocation of resources.

The remote location of Inuit communities and dependence on southern referral centres create a complex dynamic for Inuit access to health care, the statement said. The reliance on southern centres for intensive care and laboratory services could limit access to health care for Inuit if these centres become overwhelmed with patients from their own jurisdictions, it added.

As of Friday, Canada had 157 confirmed cases of the COVID-19, Public Health Agency of Canada said.

12/03/2020

Canada’s federal government announced a $1-billion package on Wednesday to deal with the impacts of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country.

The package includes $500-million to help provinces and territories pay for more testing and increase surveillance and monitoring.

It will also ease restrictions on employment insurance payments for people who need to take time off work and it waives the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment benefits.

The federal government is prepared to use isolation tents and temporary shelters to deal with the threat of an outbreak of COVID-19 in remote Indigenous communities, according to CBC News.

Valerie Gideon, senior assistant deputy minister for the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, said the Public Health Agency of Canada is working on procuring specialized isolation tents for screening and testing that could be used in communities that lack adequate infrastructure to deal with COVID-19.

As of Thursday, March 12, none of Canada’s northern territories had reported any cases of COVID-19.

ALASKA

April 2020

30/04/2020 – 11h EDT

Alaska’s Chief Public Health Officer Annie Zink says increased hospital testing capacity for COVID-19 is well-positioning the state to monitor the coronavirus as it gradually reopens its economy. 

Zink said the state was now exploring ways to boost testing for key industries like fishing.

“The more that we can find ways to be resilient with this new disease, the more ways we can move to a new future, the better off we’re going to be,” she said in a live streamed news conference on Wednesday.

Over 19,000 people had been tested for the coronavirus to date, said State Governor Mike Dunleavy at the news conference.

The population of Alaska is approximately 730,000 people.

As of Wednesday, the state was reporting 355 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, up four cases from Tuesday, with 240 people having recovered. Thirty-six people have required hospitalization and there have been nine deaths. (The state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.)

29/04/2020 – 11h EDT

A lawsuit launched to stop for-profit Alaska Native corporations from accessing federal COVID-19 funding shouldn’t stop native tribes from immediately accessing the relief, a federal judge said on Monday, reported the Associated Press (AP). 

Three Alaska tribes joined a federal lawsuit this month with other, southern-based U.S. tribes, arguing that the money should go to tribal governments responsible for services like health care and education, not for-profit entities. Alaska Native corporations are unique in the U.S. — they own most Indigneous land in the state but are not considered governments, the AP says.

The corporations argue they fulfill a role similar to government by providing jobs, training,  economic development, education and cultural programs.

On Monday, the federal judge officially OK’d the immediate distribution of COVID-19 relief funds to the tribes, saying to do otherwise would cause unnecessary hardship, the AP said. Alaska native corporations can’t access the funds for now as the lawsuit makes its way through the courts.

In other news, Alaska reported six new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing total coronavirus numbers in the state to 351. Thirty-seven of those people have required hospitalization and there have been nine deaths. (The state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.)

27/04/2020 – 11h EDT

Alaska relaxed restrictions on in-state travel effective April 24, the latest move from authorities to restart the economy. 

The government OK’d travel between Alaskan communities, but said only members of the same household should be travelling in one vehicle.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings will also be allowed if they’re limited to 20 people or under.

As of Sunday, Alaska was reporting 341 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 217 people having recovered. Thirty-six people have required hospitalization and there have been nine deaths. (The state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.)

24/04/2020 – 11h EDT

The U.S. Treasury Department has affirmed its position that Alaska Native corporations are eligible for federal COVID-19 funding the same way tribes are, The Associated Press reported on Thursday.

Three Alaska tribes joined a federal lawsuit last week with other, southern-based U.S. tribes, objecting to COVID-19 relief funding going to for-profit Alaska native corporations, the Associated Press reported earlier. 

The tribes argue that the money should go to tribal governments responsible for services like health care and education, not for-profit entities. Alaska Native corporations are unique in the U.S. — they own most Indigneous land in the state but are not considered governments, the AP says.

The corporations argue they fulfill a role similar to government by providing jobs, training,  economic development, education and cultural programs.

The AP reports that a hearing is scheduled April 24 to request an order to freeze funding distribution as the lawsuit makes its way through the system.

23/04/2020 – 11h EDT

The state government released further details of its slow restart of the economy on Wednesday, including the restrictions that will need to be respected in places like restaurants and retail stores when they reopen on Friday.

The government has OK’d the restart of sit-down dining in restaurants but said group dining can only be offered to people who have the same home address.

For others, table seating must be a minimum of 10 feet apart.

Walk-ins will be prohibited and reservations will be obligatory. Restaurant staff will also be required to wear face coverings.

In retail stores, fabric face coverings will be required for all store employees as well as for any customer wanting to enter the premises.

As of Wednesday, Alaska was reporting 335 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, up six from Tuesday, with 196 people having recovered. Thirty-six people have required hospitalization and there have been nine deaths. (The state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.)

22/04/2020 – 10h30 EDT

Starting on Friday, Alaskan restaurants, retail stores, hairdressers and nail salons will be allowed to reopen, Alaska State Governor Mike Dunleavy said in a livestreamed press conference on Tuesday. 

Dunleavy said COVID-19 cases in the state were far below what was anticipated and that he was confident the curve would continue to fall as the economy reopened providing that Alaskans continued to respect social and physical distancing and handwashing requirements.

Dunleavy also warned Alaskans to be prepared for changes when businesses reopen. Employees in retail stores may be wearing masks and gloves and requiring customers to respect two-metre distances from personnel, and restaurants will be required to have tables appropriately spaced if they want to offer sit-down service, he said.

Alaska has also extended its ban on international and intrastate travel until May 19 and extended its health mandate on social distancing indefinitely.

As of Tuesday, Alaska was reporting 329 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, up eight from Monday, with 168 people having recovered. Thirty-six people have required hospitalization and there have been nine deaths. (The state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.)

21/04/2020 – 11h EDT

State Governor Mike Dunleavy says that with COVID-19 infection numbers continuing to decline, Alaskans can feel comfortable with the gradual reopening of the economy slated to begin next week.  

Alaska reported only two new COVID-19 cases on Monday.

“Within the following week we will be able to start to partake in — and I hope many of you do — things such as barber shops, nail salons, restaurants and retail stores,” Dunleavy said in his Monday press conference posted on the government’s website.

But Dunleavy cautioned things would be different from what people were used to, saying physical and social distancing requirements would still need to be respected. He also said mask use in public would be encouraged, especially in places like retail stores.

The governor said he would be speaking to mayors this week and would release more details about the reopening in the days to come.

As of Sunday, Alaska was reporting 321 total confirmed COVID-19 cases with 161 people having recovered. Thirty-six people have required hospitalization and there have been nine deaths. (The state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.)

20/04/2020 – 13h30 EDT

As of Sunday, Alaska was reporting 319 total confirmed COVID-19 cases with 153 people having recovered. Thirty-six people have required hospitalization and there have been nine deaths. (The state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.)

In other news, three Alaska tribes have joined a federal lawsuit objecting to COVID-19 relief funding going to for-profit Alaska native corporations, the Associated Press reported on Friday. 

The Akiak Native Community, Asa’carsarmiut Tribe and Aleut Community of St. Paul Island are the Alaskan tribes that joined the suit along with other American Indigneous groups, arguing that the money should go to tribal governments responsible for services like health care and education, not for-profit entities.

Alaska native corporations are unique in the U.S. — they own most Indigenous land in the state but are not considered governments, the AP says.

However, the U.S. government argues that the Alaska native corporations are defined as “Indian Tribes” and so are eligible for the funding, AP reports.

17/04/2020 – 11h EDT

State Governor Mike Dunleavy sought to reassure Alaskan’s on Thursday that the gradual reopening of the state economy in the coming weeks would be done slowly and safely.

Brandishing a graph of Alaska’s COVID-19 infections for the camera, Dunleavy pointed out that the state had none of the infection spikes experienced in some other parts of the U.S. and that confirmed case numbers had been plateauing for some time, something he attributed to the success of physical and social distancing measures.

On Wednesday, the government authorized some health services and procedures to resume on April 20.

At the same time the economy is slowly reopened by sector, Dunleavy promised increased testing to respond to any spikes quickly, saying business decisions will not be made “at the expense of the health of Alaskans.”   

As of Thursday, Alaska had 300 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection. To date, 110 people have recovered and there have been nine deaths. (The state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.)

16/04/2020 – 11h00 EDT

Alaska issued a health mandate on Wednesday allowing some medical procedures and health services to resume starting on April 20.

In order to be covered by the mandate, the procedures must require minimal protective equipment, so masks and gowns won’t be diverted away from those working with COVID-19 patients. The procedures and services must also be things that can’t be delivered via telehealth or phone consultation.

Besides health care workers like doctors and dentists, the mandate also covers services delivered by massage therapists and social workers.

The state will also allow the resumption of elective and non-urgent surgeries starting on May 4, if delaying the procedures beyond eight weeks would cause a significant risk to the patients quality of life.

Also on Wednesday, the Kodiak Area Emergency Services Organization (KAESO)  announced the first case of COVID-19 on Kodiak Island in the southern part of the state. In a news release, the KAESO said the individual was doing well and isolating at home.

Including the Kodiak case, Alaska is now reporting 294 total confirmed COVID-19 infections and nine deaths. (The state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.)

15/04/2020 – 10h30 EDT

The health authority in the Bering Strait part of the state announced the first case of COVID-19 infection in its region on Tuesday. 

“The patient has been self-isolating and is in contact with (the) State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology and Public Health Nursing to ensure appropriate precautions are being taken,” the Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) said in a news release.

The community where the infection was confirmed was not identified.

The NSHC is the not-for-profit health organization that serves the Inupiat, Siberian Yup’ik and Yu’pik of the Bering Strait region in northwestern Alaska.

Prior to the announcement on Tuesday, the state’s Department of Health and Social Services was reporting 285 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, as well as the death of a 33 year-old woman who had prior health conditions.

“Our thoughts today are with this individual, her friends and family and also with the health care providers who cared for her,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink in a news release. “This is a reminder that sometimes young people also have underlying health issues that puts them at higher risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19.”

To date, nine Alaskan’s have died from COVID-19. The state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.

14/04/2020 – 10h30 EDT

With the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases plateauing over several days, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy says the government’s turning its attention to how to restart the economy.

In a Monday livestreamed press conference, Dunleavy outlined the longterm gameplan: letting Alaskan regions untouched by the coronavirus get back to normal as much as possible, and in the rest of the state, slowly restarting the economy by sector and evaluating at each step how it effects COVID-19 numbers, before allowing another sector to reopen.

Dunleavy said decisions would be made in discussion with municipalities and other stakeholders and sought to reassure the public several times during his statement that economic considerations would not trump health care concerns.

“We’re not going to do anything unilaterally,” he said. “But we can probably get to a more normal situation over time.” 

As of Monday, Alaska had 277 total confirmed COVID-19 cases. Eighty-five people have recovered and 32 people have required hospitalization. There’s been eight deaths, although the state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total. 

13/04/2020 – 11h00 EDT

Alaska now has 272 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, the state’s Department of Health and Social Services reported on Sunday.

On Friday, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy hosted an “Alaska’s Day of Prayer and Hope” live stream along with religious leaders asking everyone to pray for Alaska as it navigated the coronavirus crisis.

To date, 66 of the state’s COVID-19 patients have recovered. There’s been eight deaths, although the state’s statistics include out-of-state deaths and in-state deaths of Alaskans together in their total.

There’s been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Arctic region of the state.

10/04/2020 – 10h EDT

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has extended the state’s school closures, ordered to help contain the spread of COVID-19, until the end of the 2019/2020 school year. 

They’d been slated to reopen on May 1.

“We don’t know what this virus is going to do and we’re trying to give as much certainty as we can to the public,” Dunleavy said in a Thursday news conference livestream.

Students will continue distance-learning with education plans put together by the various school districts.

Alaska also reported nine new cases of COVID-19 infection on Thursday, bringing total cases up to 235. There’s been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Arctic region of the state.

09/04/2020 – 10h30 EDT

Alaska reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 infection on Wednesday, and one new death.

The Anchorage woman who died was in her 40s and had been in hospital since April 5. Her death brings the total number of Alaskan deaths to seven, two of which occurred out-of-state.

“The loss of these Alaskans is sad and difficult, for the families, loved ones, the communities where these individuals lived, and for all of Alaska,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink. “This daily press release relays the data associated with COVID-19 to the public but behind each number is an Alaskan. My thoughts are with this individual’s loved ones today.”

In other news, Alaska’s Governor Mike Dunleavy has proclaimed April 10 as “Alaska’s Day of Prayer and Hope” saying he’s calling on all Alaskan’s to come together in reflection and prayer for Alaska as it navigates the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dunleavy will hold a livestream event to mark the occasion and observe a moment of silence. Every Alaskan is being invited to participate whatever their personal beliefs or religious traditions.

The April 10  livestream event will be at 2:00pm local time on Facebook and Vimeo.

As of Wednesday, the state was reporting 226 total confirmed COVID-19 cases. Twenty-seven people have required hospitalization.

08/04/2020

Authorities mobilized on Tuesday in response to the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection in the Bethel region of southwest Alaska.

The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), a non-profit health organization set up to respond to the needs of Indigenous Alaskans, announced it will distribute 40 rapid testing machines and 2,400 test kits throughout rural Alaska.

Jacob Gray, a ANTHC infectious disease physician, said identifying infections this way was a key step to contain the coronavirus.

“Getting tested as soon as possible, when indicated by your provider, is one of the most effective, important ways to help one’s community in preventing the spread of this infection.”   

The Bethel case, first announced on Monday, was connected with out-of-state travel, Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services said in a news release on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday at noon, Alaska was reporting 213 total COVID-19 infections.

07/04/2020 

Alaskan authorities reported 191 cases of confirmed COVID-19 infection on Monday, but an evening news release from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) in the southwestern region of the state, announcing their first confirmed case, brought the number up to 192.

The new YKHC case is located in Bethel, a community of approximately 6500 people, that’s a major hub of western Alaska.

“This first case in our region highlights the importance of adherence to prevention guidelines including quarantine, social distancing, regular disinfecting, and regular handwashing,” the YKHC said in a news release.  “Help protect your community by staying home.”

Also on Monday, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, a non-profit health organization set up to respond to the needs of Indigenous Alaskans, is asking community members to use their crafting skills to make masks and surgical caps for community hospitals.

“Supplies nationally are extremely low and our ability to renew our supplies is limited,” the ANTHC said in a news release on Monday. “Every mask and surgical cap is important to the life of our people.”

06/04/2020

Alaska was reporting 185 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection as of Sunday. Twenty people in total have required hospitalization and there have been six deaths (unlike most jurisdictions, these statistics reflect both deaths in the state and those of Alaskan’s to died elsewhere in the U.S.)

Elsewhere, Alaska Public Media reported on Sunday that RavnAir Group, a regional airline that serves 100 communities in rural Alaska and employs 3,000 people, announced that because of the COVID-19 restrictions around the state, it was ending all service, laying off all staff and filing for bankruptcy.

02/01/2020

Alaska’s Governor Mike Dunleavy extended the state’s health mandate on Wednesday prolonging the closure of a number of facilities indefinitely to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

State libraries, archives, museums, residential schools, restaurants, bars and entertainment facilities are among the facilities and businesses covered, a news release said.

Meanwhile, Alaska Public Media reports that planners in Anchorage, the state’s most populated city with approximately 291,538 people,  are scrambling to prepare for an anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases in the weeks ahead, ordering everything from medical beds and equipment, as well as preparing mortuary spaces.

As of April 1, 3pm local time, Alaska had 143 total confirmed cases of coronavirus infection. Three Alaskan’s have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, two in the state and one in the state of Washington. There’s been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Arctic region of the state.

01/04/2020

Alaska now has 133 confirmed total cases of COVID-19 infection in the state as of 3pm local time on Tuesday.

Fourteen new cases were reported on that day.

Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services said in a statement that 10 of the new cases were in adults aged 30-59, two of the new cases were in the 19-29 age group with another two cases in the 60+ age group.

Two of the new cases are travel-related and five are the result of contact with previously diagnosed cases. The origins of the other seven cases are still being investigated.

Alaska has a population of approximately 737,000 people. So far, the majority of its confirmed cases have been in the interior, in the area of Anchorage or in the southeast region of the state.

Three Alaskan’s have died, two in the state and one in the state of Washington.

As of Tuesday, there were still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Arctic region of the state.

March 2020

31/03/2020

Health authorities are now calling Fairbanks, the third most populous city in the state with approximately 31,000 people, as Alaska’s new COVID-19 hotspot, Alaska Public Media (APM) reported on Monday. 

Health authorities quoted in the story said the designation wasn’t based on numbers alone, but on the amount of community transmission happening that can’t be traced to recent travel or known contact with a previously infected person.

In a news release on Sunday, The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology said 15 out of the 28 cases confirmed at that time in Fairbanks and the nearby city of North Pole were linked to two medical practises located in one Fairbanks building.

As of Monday, March 30 at 3pm local time, there were 30 confirmed COVID-19 infections in Fairbanks and North Pole, out of 119 state-wide.

30/03/2020 

Alaska has confirmed 119 cases of COVID-19 in the state as of 3pm local time on Sunday, the Department of Health and social services said in a news statement. 

Twelve new cases were reported on Sunday: six were linked with previously diagnosed cases, one was travel-related and the other five were still under investigation.

Also on Sunday, the Alaska State Legislature extended the Public Health Emergency Disaster Declaration for COVID-19, and authorized funding to both help combat the coronavirius pandemic and address the economic fallout.

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy said he appreciated what was accomplished but was disappointed cash infusions weren’t authorized to help workers who’d lost their jobs because of business shutdowns ordered to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Thousands of Alaskans are out of work through no fault of their own, due to the government pausing most economic activity to slow the spread of the disease,” Dunleavy said in a statement on Sunday.

“It would appear lawmakers missed the opportunity to create a cash infusion from the earnings reserve account into the hands of Alaskans, like hairdressers and restaurant workers, that could have happened in as little as two weeks. I am quite frankly puzzled why they would not do that.”

As of Sunday, there were still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Arctic region of Alaska.

27/03/2020 

Alaska reported 10 new COVID-19 cases in the state on Thursday, one of them a child.

The new data brings total confirmed cases in the state to 69.

We now have convincing evidence of community transmission in three Alaska communities— Anchorage, Fairbanks and Ketchikan,” said Joe McLaughlin, Alaska’s state epidemiologist in a news release.

“This means that COVID-19 cases are being identified in people in these communities who have had no recent out-of-state travel and no identified link to another person with confirmed COVID-19 infection.”

Authorities say this development means people must be more stringent than ever about maintaining physical distancing and isolating at home at any symptoms of respiratory infection.

As of Thursday at 3pm local time, there were still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the northernmost part of the state.

26/03/2020

Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services announced 17 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday bringing the state’s total cases of the coronavirus to 59. 

This clearly represents a considerable increase in our cases,” Joe McLaughlin, Alaska’s State Epidemiologist, said in a statement.

All of the new cases have been diagnosed in adults, with three of the new cases diagnosed in the 19-29 year age group.

Most of the transmission chains are still under investigation, but three cases were established to be travel-related and three other people were known to have had close contact with previously diagnosed individuals.

Meanwhile, Alaska Public Media, reported on Wednesday that Alaska’s economic development agency is proposing a $100 million loan guarantee program to help state businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic measures.

As of Wednesday at 5pm local time, there were still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the northernmost part of the state.

25/03/2020 

Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services announced six new cases of COVID-19 infection Tuesday evening, bringing the state’s total confirmed infections to 42. All the new cases were in adults. 

The new confirmed infections were found in four different communities either in the interior or southern part of the state:

  • Fairbanks (2)
  • Juneau (1)
  • Ketchikan (2)
  • Sterling (1)

The department said the Juneau case was travel related and the Fairbanks and Sterling infections were acquired through close contact. The Ketchikan cases are still being investigated.

The department also announced that one case of COVID-19 infection in the state had required hospitalization.

As of Tuesday at 5pm local time, there were still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the northernmost part of the state.

24/03/2020

With 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alaska as of Monday, state Governor Mike Dunleavy issued a mandatory 14-day self isolation order for anyone entering the state. 

Upon arrival, travellers, whether residents or visitors, will be required to fill out a form listing the four most recent places travelled, as well as listing their quarantine address.

Anyone who does not respect the 14-day quarantine order will be subject to a $25,000 fine or one year in jail.

Exceptions include those working in critical infrastructure.

The governor also banned gatherings of more than 10 people and issued a state-wide shutdown order for all businesses that bring people within six feet of each other such as tattoo parlors and barber shops.

The new restrictions will take effect at 5pm local time on Tuesday, March 24.

As of Monday, there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the northernmost part of the state.

23/03/2020 

Alaska reported 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the state on Sunday, with 12 traced to travel and 10 that appear to be the result of community transmission. 

As of Sunday, no confirmed case has yet required hospitalization.

On Friday, the state government issued a health mandate closing public and private schools to students through May 1, 2020. It also issued a sweeping list of closing orders for two regions with the most reported cases: the Fairbanks North Star Borough, located in the state’s interior, and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, located in the state’s southeast region neighbouring the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Businesses ordered to close include everything from hair salons and tattoo shops to massage therapy locations and tanning facilities.

As of the last state government update on Sunday, there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the northernmost part of the state.

20/03/2020 

Rigourous hand washing is being stressed by jurisdictions around the world in a bid to stem COVID-19 infections. But this is a challenge for the approximately, 3,300 rural Alaska homes that lack running water.  To help combat this, some Indigenous organizations in the state are circulating information on social media about disinfection without running water. 

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, an organization that administers healthcare delivery for 58 rural communities in southwest Alaska, has posted instructions and graphics on how to make a bleach solution that can help disinfect surfaces and wash hands.

On Thursday, Alaska Public Media reported that the number of confirmed cases in the state had risen to 12, with two of the new cases being unrelated to travel.

19/03/2020 

Alaska registered three new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total count of COVID-19 infections in the state to nine, state health officials confirmed to Eye on the Arctic.

Two of the new cases were in Anchorage and one was in the town of Seward, about 200 kilometres south of Anchorage. Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said all three new cases were travel related — two were in people who had travelled to the continental U.S. and another was in a person who had traveled to Europe, Zink said.

18/03/2020 

Alaskans are getting ready for a life without restaurants and bars, cinemas and theatres, gyms, bowling alleys and bingo halls as a statewide shut-down of public spaces goes into effect Wednesday afternoon to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus in Alaska.

The number of COVID-19 infections in Alaska doubled Tuesday night as three more people tested positive for the virus that causes the potentially fatal disease.

Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink the three cases were from tests conducted in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Ketchikan.

All six cases of COVID-19 in Alaska so far appear to be related to travel outside the state, Zink said.

The closures last through April 1st.

17/03/2020

Alaska’s chief medical officer announced two additional cases of COVID-19 Monday night, bringing the total of new coronavirus infections in the state to three.

Dr. Anne Zink said both cases in the Fairbanks area were related to travel in the southern United States.

Both men are currently stable and recovering in isolation at home, Zink said.

Their families and close contacts will be asked to be quarantined, she added.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Alaska is closing all state-run libraries, archives and museums until the end of March, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Monday.

All public programs and events scheduled to be held within and around these facilities are suspended at this time, Dunleavy announced during a news conference streamed online.

Staff will continue to serve the public through telephone, web, and other modes that preserve the highest degree of social distancing, the governor said.

He also directed all residential boarding school programs to start sending students home in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“There is no reason to panic, but there is reason to be concerned,” Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy also signed two bills into law on Monday.

House Bill 206 provides $4 million to the state health department for its response to the outbreak of COVID-19. The bill also provides Alaska with open ended authority to accept any federal funds for COVID-19 response, Dunleavy said.

The second piece of legislation, House Bill 29, requires health insurers to provide coverage for telehealth benefits — the delivery of health care by phone, video or online.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC and the Alaska chief medical officer have encouraged anyone with flu-like symptoms to utilize telehealth benefits before overloading the health care system, especially our emergency rooms,” Dunleavy said.

16/03/2020

Health officials in Alaska issued an advisory Monday asking patients and health care providers to consider “minimizing, postponing or canceling all non-urgent or elective procedures for three months to decrease the overall impact on the Alaska health care structure.

Given Alaska’s distances and limited health care capacity, it is especially important to open acute health care beds for anticipated COVID-19 care,” Alaska’s Chief Medical Officers Dr. Anne Zink, said in a statement. “The State of Alaska believes that by delaying non emergent procedures, individuals will receive optimal care.”

Officials are also recommending that Alaskans returning to the state from other countries and other states practice varying degrees of isolation to halt the spread of coronavirus.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services classifies returning travelers in two categories: higher risk – those returning from countries with “widespread, ongoing community spread” –  and medium risk – travelers returning within 14 days from outside of Alaska (including the rest of the United States) .

State health authorities recommend different isolation considerations for each group.

Those returning from higher risk areas are requested to stay home and avoid contact with other household members.

The advisory calls on these travellers to contact their employer and do not go to work or school for a 14-day period after their return.

Travelers in the medium risk category are advised to discuss their work situation with their employer before returning to work.

The advisory also calls on them to minimize contact with people as much as possible, self-monitor and practice social distancing.

This may mean not going to work or school if you cannot safely be distanced from others – especially if you traveled in a location where community transmission is occurring,” the advisory says.

It comes after Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Friday, the day after Alaska announced its first positive case of COVID-19, that public schools in the state will be closed until at least March 30.

13/03/2020 

Alaska registered its first case of COVID-19, after a man tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the state, officials said Thursday.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office said the individual arrived in Anchorage Wednesday. The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, described the man as a foreign national who had come through the airport, identified symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19, contacted his health provider, isolated himself and made arrangements to be assessed.

Zink said officials believe they can contain any further transmission related to this case. The case would be sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation, Zink said.

This is not someone who’s been wandering through the community,” she said.

An epidemiology team would go through the man’s recent history and if there is any reason to believe someone may have been exposed, they will be contacted and asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days, Zink said.

12/03/2020

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy issued on March 11 a declaration of public health disaster emergency in response to the COVID-19 anticipated outbreak.

According to a statement by the governor’s office, the declaration initiates a unified command structure between the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), and the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

My administration has worked daily to coordinate our response efforts and keep Alaskans informed about COVID-19. Beginning with the flight to repatriate Americans living in Wuhan in January, our team has responded with a level of professionalism that is a model for the nation,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy.

Alaska still does not have any confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease; however, by issuing this disaster declaration, we are taking a proactive approach to accessing all necessary resources.

Maj.-Gen. Torrance Saxe, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs said they have seen a great level of voluntary coordination between local, Tribal, state, and federal partners to date.

We have established a Unified Command and activated our plans to coordinate activities statewide,” Saxe said. “Uniformed members of the Alaska Organized Militia, including the Alaska National Guard, are prepared to respond to the needs of our communities and DHSS as requested.

In addition to setting up the unified command, the declaration permits the DHSS commissioner to exercise state statutes related to isolation and quarantine measures, and makes it easier for the state to purchase supplies, hire temporary staff, and access disaster relief funds for public assistance, the statement said.

The DHSS emergency operations center has been activated since January. The State of Alaska emergency operations center has been on standby for several weeks.

On March 2, 2020, Governor Dunleavy submitted a supplemental budget amendment to fund COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts. The supplemental budget amendment provides $4 million US in state funds and allows for the receipt of $9 million US in federal support for mitigation and response efforts.

GREENLAND

April 2020

28/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Greenland has issued a new executive order allowing educational institutions greater flexibility in how they conduct exams amidst COVID-19 restrictions. 

In a news release on Tuesday, the government said secondary schools, vocational programs and higher education institutions would be permitted to conduct exams virtually if warranted, or make other modifications to their usual procedures, to enable testing goes ahead as planned.

All of Greenland’s 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases have recovered and there’s been no new confirmed cases since the end of March. The government has gradually been lifting some COVID-19 restrictions over the last two weeks.

24/04/2020 – 11h EDT

Greenland will open up application dates for cultural grants, to help artists struggling financially amidst the coronavirus pandemic. 

Normally, grant deadlines are three times a year, but in a news release on Friday, the government said any artist who’s lost their income amidst the COVID-19 crisis can apply for funding outside of the typical deadlines.

“Actors, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, writers and artists are under pressure because the coronavirus has led to cancellations of shows, exhibitions, museums, film screenings and other event closures,” the government said.

“It’s now possible for artists who’ve lost their income to apply for Cultural Work Grants outside of the usual deadlines in order to be able to work on their art.”

Approval criteria for the grants will remain unchanged, the government said.

All of Greenland’s 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases have recovered and there’s been no new confirmed cases since the end of March. The government gradually started lifting some COVID-19 restrictions last week.

23/04/2020 – 11h EDT

Greenland is bumping up financial help to companies that keep employees on their payroll, saying it will help the territory’s economy recover faster from measures put in place to contain COVID-19. 

The government has been providing 75 per cent wage compensation, to a maximum of 20,190 Danish kroner a month, to companies that keep employees on their payroll instead of laying them off because of COVID-19 mitigation measures.

The new measure will bump that compensation up to 90 per cent, but will keep the 20,190 Danish kroner ceiling in place.

“(This measure) strengthens the social safety net under the population, because fewer families will experience the uncertainty of a breadwinner losing his or her job,” said a statement on the government website on Thursday.

All of Greenland’s 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases have recovered and there’s been no new confirmed cases since the end of March.

The government gradually started lifting COVID-19 restrictions last week.

14/04/2020 – 13h30 EDT

Greenland will lift its ban on alcohol sales April 15 as planned, saying that with no active COVID-19 cases in the territory, the measure is no longer needed.

“There’s been a great sense of community across Greenland during this difficult time,” Kielsen said in a news release on Tuesday, thanking Greenlanders for collaborating with health authorities to contain the coronavirus.

Greenland had a total of 11 confirmed coronavirus cases but all patients have recovered and there’s been no new confirmed cases in over a week.

Greenland’s Prime Minister Kim Kielsen put the alcohol ban in place in March in the Nuuk capital region after self-isolation directives resulted in a skyrocketing number of calls to women’s and children’s shelters.

He also said there were concerns alcohol use could lead to people ignoring social and physical distance requirements.

Kielsen previously announced on Monday that schools could reopen as early as next week.

13/04/2020 – 14h00 EDT

With no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Greenland since the end of March, some schools and daycares could reopen as early as next week, the government said in a news release on Monday. 

The decision will be made after seeing if there are any new confirmed cases reported this week.

To date, Greenland has had 11 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but as of last week, all patients had fully recovered.

All confirmed cases were in the capital city of Nuuk.

An alcohol ban, put in place in the capital area, during the COVID-19 crisis because of the skyrocketing number of calls to women’s and children’s shelters once self-isolation requirements were put in place, is set to expire on April 15.

KNR, Greenland’s public broadcaster, reported on Monday that Greenland’s Prime Minister Kim Kielsen said he still hadn’t decided whether he’d extend the ban past Wednesday.

10/04/2020 – 10h30 EDT

All 11 people who had confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Greenland, have now recovered,  Greenland’s chief medical officer, said in a news release on Thursday. 

Henrik Hansen said that news, along with the lack of new, positive test results this week, were cause for cautious optimism.

“It’s been so long since the last positive tests that we can be a little more certain that there aren’t a higher number of people infected in the country,” he said.

Fifty-one test results are still pending.

06/04/2020 – 12h30 EDT

Greenland announced one new COVID-19 infection on Saturday, bringing total infections in the territory to 11.

“It’s a case from an already known chain of infection, and so it’s not unexpected,” Henrik Hansen, Greenland’s chief medical officer, said in a news release.

“However, it underlines the importance of us all continuing to take the situation seriously. The epidemic is spreading around us, so it is really important that we continue to all focus on all the guidelines on social distance, hygiene and staying at home if you are sick.”

A total of 625 people in Greenland have been tested for the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

02/04/2020 

Greenland announced no new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, but Henrik Hansen, Greenland’s chief medical officer said that didn’t mean people should let down their guard. 

“It’s really good that we have no new infections,” Hansen said in a news release.  “It shows that the containment strategy appears to be working for the time being. There is no indication that the infection is spreading in the country, but we do not know for sure. However, that does not mean that we can go back to everyday life right away. It’s still very important that we all follow the hygiene advice and the (health) orders that have been introduced.”

Greenland has 10 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, all in the capital city of Nuuk.

Forty-eight people are still waiting for their results from the laboratory doing the testinging in Copenhagen.

Five-hundred and forty-two people have been tested in Greenland in all.

March 2020

30/03/2020

In an effort to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Greenland is prohibiting the sale of alcohol in the capital city of Nuuk, and the nearby settlements of  Kapisillit and Qeqertarsuatsiaat from March 28 to April 15, Prime Minister Kim Kielsen announced on Saturday. 

Kielsen said alcohol consumption makes people less likely to observe the self-isolation and distance measures needed to slow the coronavirus but that the ban was also needed to protect women and children self-isolating in homes across the capital.

“We have to take many precautions to avoid the infection spreading, but the main goal of my decision is to protect children,” Kielsen said in a news release.  “They must have a safe home. I hope that, as a society, we see children’s welfare as a common concern and will contribute to a safe society.”

The Nuuk crisis centre says they’re getting increased calls from women and children looking for beds at the shelter since COVID-19 stay-at-home measures have been put in place.

Martha Abelsen , Greenland’s Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Justice, said in a separate news release that extra funding is being made available and that any shelter in the country can apply for it to meet the increased needs of their communities.

All of Greenland’s 10 confirmed COVID-19 infections are in the capital city of Nuuk.

In a statement on the government’s website on Monday, it asked anyone struggling with alcohol dependency issues as a result of the alcohol ban to contact health services or treatment resources for telephone or Skype counselling.

27/03/2020

Greenland has another confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nuuk, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the autonomous Danish region up to 10.

The most recent infection was a family member of a previously confirmed case, Greenlandic newspaper Sermitsiaq reported on Friday.

So for, all 10 COVID-19 cases in Greenland are in the capital city of Nuuk.

26/03/2020

Greenland put an emergency text system in place on Thursday to quickly disseminate information about COVID-19 and the mitigation measures needed to fight it.

“All means must be used to fight the coronavirus and an important part of that is keeping citizens informed so they know what to do,” Greenland’s President Kim Kielsen said in a news release. “SMS is a good, fast and direct information channel.”

The text project will be overseen by the Greenlandic government, the Greenlandic medical association and the police, the three bodies coordinating the territory’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Thursday, at 1pm local time, Greenland was reporting 9 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, all in the capital city of Nuuk. Henrik Hansen, Greenland’s chief medical officer, said the three new cases were travel-related and all among members of the same family, reports KNR, Greenland’s public broadcaster.

25/03/2020

The number of COVID-19 cases in Greenland has jumped to six, reported Greenland’s public broadcaster KNR on Wednesday.

Like the previous five cases, the recently confirmed case is also in the capital city of Nuuk and is related to one of the previous known infections.

KNR quotes Henrik Hansen,  Greenland’s chief medical officer, as saying the new infection is “problematic,” reminding  Greenlanders of the importance or respecting a 14-day quarantine whether returning from Denmark or a foriegn country, and not to make visits or receive visitors during that time.

“It’s imperative that we stop an epidemic from reaching this country,” he said.

24/03/2020

Greenland’s public broadcaster, KNR, is reporting an additional confirmed case of COVID-19 in Nuuk, the territory’s capital city, bringing the total number of infections to five. 

The most recent case was traced to a previous confirmed infection, the broadcaster said.

All five people are in isolation at home and no one has needed to be hospitalized, KNR reported.

23/03/2020

Greenland announced aid on Monday to help businesses who’ve been economically affected by COVID-19 related shutdowns, so they can weather the next three months. 

Among the measures announced are a 50-million Danish kroner package to help travel and leisure related businesses like hotels, restaurants and service industries and a 100-million Danish kroner package to assist fishing, construction and transportation related industries.

Tax filing deadlines will also be extended.

I’m proud that with the package we can ensure that a safety net is stretched out over the next three months for those companies and workers who are currently suffering heavy losses due to the COVID-19 situation,” said Jess Svane, Greenland’s Minister for Industry, Energy and Science, in a statement on Monday.

Brian Buus Pedersen, the head of Greenland’s business association, welcomed the announcement, saying he was pleased business would be getting some relief.

“We can now launch a number of initiatives for the Greenlandic business and labor market, which will mitigate the worst economic consequences of the COVID-19 situation,” he said.

As of Monday, Greenland had four confirmed cases of COVID-19.

KNR, Greenland’s public broadcaster reported Monday that two of those patients had now recovered. 

20/03/2020

Greenland’s health ministry announced on Friday it was putting an end to visits at Queen Ingrid’s Hospital in the capital city of Nuuk to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The ministry says the restrictions apply both to patient rooms and to common areas in the hospital.

Limited exemptions to the restrictions include women giving birth, who will be allowed to have one person with them; as well as close family members visiting critically ill or dying relatives.

Parents visiting children who’ve been hospitalized will also be exempted from the ban.

As of Friday morning, there’s been two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Greenland, both in Nuuk.

Greenland’s public broadcaster KNR reported on Friday that there were still 51 people in Greenland awaiting test results. 

19/03/2020 

Health authorities in Greenland vowed to ramp up testing for COVID-19 despite the fact that they still haven’t received results of previous tests sent to laboratories in Denmark, the Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation (KNR) reported Thursday.

The delay in receiving test results was caused by interruptions in international air traffic caused by the outbreak.

Chief Medical Officer Henrik L. Hansen told reporters in Nuuk that authorities also plan to ramp up testing of medical personnel to ensure that they don’t become vectors of infection. Only health professionals who test negative for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will be allowed to work. However, it’s not clear when these measures will come into effect.

18/03/2020 

Authorities in Greenland shut down the island’s capital and the largest city, Nuuk, after a second person tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

As of 16:00 local time the government is banning all public gatherings of 10 people and more, said Premier Kim Kielsen.

All educational institutions in Nuuk – private and public – are closed. Emergency services will be provided to families of essential service workers.

The ban will be in effect for the next three weeks.

In addition, all shopping malls, fitness centres and sports facilities, clubs and bars are ordered to close down. Restaurants can only offer takeout service.

Grocery stores remain open but customers must keep a distance of two meters from each other, officials said.

Residents of Nuuk are forbidden to leave the city by any means of transportation.

We do not have an epidemic, but we are taking these measures to prevent it from happening,” Chief Medical Officer Henrik L. Hansen said in a statement.

The ban will be in effect for the next three weeks.

17/03/2020

The Greenlandic government has decided to halt all flights to and from Greenland, as well as internal flights to combat the spread of COVID-19, Premier Kim Kielsen announced Tuesday.

The measure comes into effect on March 21.

However, the shut down of flights does not apply to patients who need to be airlifted to Denmark for treatment, Kielsen pointed out.

This is something that we have taken into account and there are airplanes scattered around the country that can transport the sick,”  the Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation (KNR) quoted Kielsen.

In addition, Kielsen announced Tuesday that elementary schools in Greenland will close for two weeks starting on March 23.

However, the measure does not apply to secondary schools, vocational training and business schools, colleges and the university, KNR reported.

Kindergartens and leisure clubs will also remain open for now, Kielsen said.

“The decision to close them is made on an ongoing basis and in consultation with the other party leaders,” Kielsen was quoted as saying by KNR.

Greenlandic health authorities have not discovered any new cases of COVID-19 in the country, officials said Tuesday. Health authorities tested a total of 31 samples in four municipalities –

Avannaata, Qeqertalik, Qeqqata and Sermersooq – after confirming Greenland’s first case of COVID-19 in capital Nuuk on Monday.

16/03/2020 

Greenland has registered its first case of COVID-19, Premier Kim Kielsen announced Monday.

The person had traveled to a high-risk area and has been quarantined at home in the capital Nuuk since returning to Greenland, Kielsen told reporters at a press conference.

Chief Medical Officer Henrik L. Hansen said there is no risk of infection to others. The patient’s family will be quarantined for 14 days.

Greenland’s health authorities have carefully planned for the situation, Hansen said.

We must deal with the further progress wisely,” Hansen was quoted by the Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation. “In the next three months there is an epidemic in Europe, so in the next three months there is a risk of infection in Greenland.

However, Greenland authorities have no plans yet to close schools or other educational institutions, Karsten Peter Jensen, Acting Deputy Minister of Greenland’s Ministry of Education, Culture and the Church, told Eye on the Arctic.

We will closely follow any developments regarding the COVID-19,” Jensen said. “And we will as well follow the recommendations and instructions given by the Commission on Epidemics. As for now there are no recommendations of school closures, and therefore the educational activities will continue within the recommendations already given.

These recommendations mandate that no more than 100 people should be in the same room at the same time, he added.

13/03/2020

Denmark will close its borders as of noon Saturday due to the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced Friday.

The announcement came as the Danish Foreign Ministry on Friday issued a travel recommendation to avoid non-essential trips to any part of the world for the coming month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The move would apply until April 13.

The message to the Danes is both clear, simple and serious. Don’t travel unless absolutely necessary. If you are already abroad, you should head home as soon as possible,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said in a statement.

12/03/2020
The Danish government announced Wednesday sweeping measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 in the country, as well as Greenland and Faroe Islands.

The government ordered all public daycares, schools, colleges and universities, as well as all public cultural institutions, libraries, leisure facilities and etc. to shut down for two weeks as of Friday, March 13. It also urged private schools to follow suit.

The government also directed all public service employees who do not perform critical functions to stay home for two weeks. The government also urged private employers to ensure that as many employees as possible work from home and avoid physical meetings whenever possible.

The government also urged people to limit the use of public transportation, as well as limiting visits to nursing homes and hospitals.

The government also banned indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and vowed to introduce special legislation that would allow the authorities, “if necessary, to force, for example, the closure of private institutions, schools and daycare centres, ban events and other congregations where many people are staying close together.”

ICELAND

April 2020

30/04/2020 – 15h EDT

As of Thursday, Iceland was still reporting 1,797 total COVID-19 cases, with no new confirmed cases since Wednesday. There’s been 1,670 recoveries and 10 deaths.

29/04/2020 – 15h EDT

As of Wednesday, Iceland was reporting 1,797 total COVID-19 cases, 1,656 recoveries and 10 deaths.

28/04/2020 – 16h EDT

With mass layoffs and mass insolvencies across Iceland amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has announced extended part-time unemployment benefits and increased financial support for companies.

Among other measures, the government is proposing a program that would allow companies to apply for help in paying employee salaries. Another proposal would top up the earnings of part-time workers.

In a news release on Tuesday, the government said the new measures would “protect workers’s rights while fostering greater resilience in the economy as a whole.”

The government is preparing legislative bills for the proposals.

24/04/2020 – 13h EDT

Iceland reported no new COVID-19 cases on Friday, but reported 33 new recoveries, bringing that total to 1,542. 

To date, Iceland has recorded 1,789 total cases of COVID-19 infection and 10 deaths.

23/04/2020 – 13h EDT

As of Thursday, Iceland was reporting 1,789 total cases of COVID-19 infection, up four cases from Tuesday, with 1,509 recoveries and 10 deaths.

22/04/2020 – 14h30 EDT

Starting Friday, Iceland will introduce temporary Schengen border controls and will also require anyone arriving in the country to observe self-isolation for 14 days.

Iceland had not previously required tourists to quarantine, saying travellers were unlikely to be in contact with the elderly or those with pre-existing health conditions, the segments of the population most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

In a news release on Wednesday, the government said although Iceland’s health authorities say COVID-19 in the country has now been largely contained, the reintroduction of the coronavirus from travellers remains a concern.

The new measures will be in place until at least May 15th.

On Tuesday, the government announced phase two of its COVID-19 relief package. Worth approximately $420 million US, the package covers a range of measures from support for small and medium sized businesses, the reinforcement of domestic food production, wage bonuses to COVID-19 health workers and a campaign against domestic violence. As in other circumpolar countries, self-isolation requirements have led to an uptick in women seeking rescue from violence in the home.

As of Wednesday, Iceland was reporting 1,785 total cases of COVID-19 infection, up seven cases from Tuesday, with 1,462 recoveries and 10 deaths.

21/04/2020 – 12h EDT

As of 1pm local time on Tuesday, Iceland was reporting 1,778 total confirmed COVID-19 infections (up five from Monday), and 1,417 recoveries. Twenty-five people have required hospitalization, with 5 patients ending up in intensive care. Ten people have died. 

20/04/2020 – 12h EDT

Iceland has ironed out the Treasury guarantee conditions for credit institutions providing loans to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government took the measure to help respond to the revenue decline and liquidity challenges experienced by many businesses since coronavirus measures like social and physical distancing and bans on large gatherings were put in place.

Among other conditions set out by the government, the loan must be granted before the end of 2020, the guarantee will be capped at 70 per cent, and wage costs must make up at least 25 per cent of the business’ total 2019 operating costs.

“The guarantees are an element in maintaining the highest employment level and the most diverse economy possible,” the government said in a news release on Friday.

As of 1pm local time on Monday, Iceland was reporting 1,773 total confirmed COVID-19 infections, and 1,362 recoveries. Twenty-five people have required hospitalization, with 5 patients ending up in intensive care. Ten people have died.

17/04/2020 – 12h30 EDT

As of Friday at 1pm local time, Iceland was reporting 1,754 total confirmed COVID-19 infections. There’s been 1,224 people who have recovered, and nine deaths. 

The number of Iceland’s daily confirmed coronavirus infections has been decreasing steadily since April 5. On Monday, the government said it would gradually start lifting COVID-19 restrictions starting May 4.

15/04/2020 – 11h45 EDT

Iceland’s minister of tourism, industry and innovation, seconded Finland’s Tuesday statement on the importance of Nordic cooperation in economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Research shows that the markets we look to the most see the Nordic countries as one area,” said Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadotti in a statement.

“We also know that it is important to be ready to move swiftly when things have improved after COVID-19. 

“The actions taken now will be decisive in how the Nordic countries will succeed in moving on once this demanding period passes and we are back to business as usual.” 

The Nordic business ministers’ met earlier this month to establish a cross-border working group to see where Nordic countries can work together to reboot their respective economies.

14/04/2020 – 12h00 EDT

Iceland will start easing COVID-19 restrictions on May 4th, with the government saying the country is getting a handle on COVID-19 infections. 

The reopening of elementary schools, and replacing a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people by a ban on gatherings of 50 people or more, were among the measures to be relaxed, the government said in a news release on Monday.

Secondary schools and university classes can also resume providing they respect the ban on gatherings of 50 or more people.

As of Tuesday, Iceland was reporting 1,720 total confirmed COVID-19 infections. Of those, 989 people have recovered and eight people have died.

09/04/2020 – 14h45 EDT

Iceland’s chief epidemiologist says COVID-19 infection is showing signs of slowing down in the country. 

We anticipate being able to slowly ease the social distancing measure we have put in place, but we will have to continue to exercise extreme caution in the foreseeable future in order to minimize the risk of a renewed outbreak,” Thorolfur Gudnason said during a news conference on Thursday.

Iceland has had 293 new confirmed infections, and 363 recoveries over the last seven days.

Health authorities say while the peak appears to have been reached, they cautioned modeling suggests Iceland was still a few days away from the hospitalizations arch.

“We are now bracing ourselves for the period of peak intensity in terms of the need for intensive care (and) possible ventilator support,” Alma Moller, Iceland’s surgeon general said in a news release.

As of Thursday, Iceland was reporting 1,648 total COVID-19 infections and six deaths.

07/04/2020 

Iceland is warning its citizens abroad to take advantage of the Icelandair flights that have been organized over the next week, saying that after April 15, people could be on their own. 

Air transport will not completely stop after April 15, but it’s still unclear what the situation will be,” a news release on the ministry’s website said on Monday, saying that many airlines had reduced their schedules significantly or cancelled flights completely.

The scheduled flights this week are leaving from Boston, London, Stockholm and Alicante, Spain.

02/04/2020

As of Thursday at 1pm local time, Iceland had 1,319 total confirmed COVID-19 infections. Forty-four people have required hospitalization and four people have died.  Two-hundred and eighty-four people have recovered.

March 2020

25/03/2020 

Iceland, with a population of  360,390 people, has now tested a total of 11,727 people for COVID-19, the highest proportion of tests performed by any individual country during the current pandemic, the government said in a news release on Wednesday. 

As of Wednesday, there were a total of 737 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country with 68 people recovering. Two people have died from the coronavirus to date. One person was an Icelander and the other was a tourist.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Icelandic news site Morgunbladid reported that authorities were planning to launch an app next week to help track infection chains in the country. Officials will ask everyone in the country to download the app once it launches, saying that 60 per cent of the population would need to have it on their phones in order for the program to be usable.

23/03/2020 

Starting on Tuesday, March 24, Iceland will ban all public gatherings of 20 people or more in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The ban also applies to all swimming pools, gyms, pubs and museums as well, which should be closed during this period, the government said in a statement.

The ban will be in place until April 12, 2020 and applies to all parts of the country.

As of 11:00 local time on Monday, Iceland has had 588 confirmed COVID-19 infections. Thirteen of those patients have been hospitalized while 51 people have recovered.

20/03/2020 

Iceland is blocking foreign nationals – with several exceptions –  from entering the country as of Friday, March 20 in a bid to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

The restrictions will be in effect until April 17, 2020.

However there are several exemptions from the ban.

The restrictions will not apply to nationals from the EU/EEA, the UK, or who come from one of the European Free Trade Association states, which besides Iceland, includes Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Other exemptions include transit passengers, health care workers on business travel, air or sea crews, emergency travel because of family emergencies, diplomats, staff from international organizations, military members on duty travel, or humanitarian aid workers.

Since Thursday, the government is requiring anyone entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days, unless they are a member of a transportation crew or a tourist.

As of Friday, March 20, 11am local time, there’s been 409 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. Six people have been hospitalized and 22  have recovered.

17/03/2020

The government of Iceland announced Tuesday that it might need to “markedly” increase its borrowing in order to deal with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The economic outlook for coming months is highly uncertain, and it is therefore difficult to estimate the Treasury’s borrowing need for the current year,” the government said in a statement. “It is also uncertain how much of that need will be for short-term borrowing and how much for long-term borrowing.”

However, with Iceland’s low level of debt the government doesn’t foresee any problems in securing loans or issuing bonds, officials said.

Iceland’s current debt stands at roughly 27.5 per cent of its GDP, officials said.

The news comes as Iceland reported 240 cases of COVID-19 in the island nation, the majority of which were related to Icelanders who had returned from vacations in European countries hit by the outbreak.

However, only three people required hospitalization, while 240 people were placed in isolation and 2,230 were under quarantine, according to data provided by the government.

The government has launched a large-scale testing program and has tested more than 2,270 people.

There are strong indications that our efforts to contain the spread of the virus have been effective,” Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason said in a statement.

About half of the diagnosed cases are from individuals who had been quarantined, Gudnason added.

Our focus is to protect those most vulnerable from contracting the virus, while trying to ensure that the overall spread of the virus remains slow,” Gudnason said. “We are optimistic that the combined efforts to test a large part of the population will provide insights that can contribute to the world’s response to this pandemic.

A ban on gatherings of more than 100 people took effect on March 15 and will remain in place for four weeks, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and her government announced last week.

Secondary and tertiary education institutions have closed, but primary schools and kindergartens will remain open with specific measures implemented to limit infection risks, the government said.

Icelanders abroad have been advised to consider returning home early, but Iceland has not banned travel to or from the country.

13/03/2020

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and her government announced on Friday new measures to reduce the rate of COVID-19 infections.

From March 16, all gatherings of more than 100 people will be banned, Icelandic Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir announced. The minister also recommended that people should stand at a distance of more than two metres from each other. This measure will be in effect for at least four weeks.

The ban does not apply to international airports or ports.

The goal of the measures is to slow down the transmission of the Covid-19 so that health services are able to withstand the strain that it causes,” said Mr Svavarsdóttir.

In addition, the Minister of Culture and Education, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, announced the closure of all universities and secondary schools for at least four weeks. Only primary schools and kindergartens will be allowed to remain open if they meet certain conditions.

If necessary, the Directorate of Health and the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management have launched a useful and informative website on COVID-19.

12/03/2020

The government of Iceland announced a series of measures on March 10 designed to cushion the blow of the COVID-19 outbreak on the country’s economy.

These measures include: giving companies more leeway in paying government taxes and fees; temporarily suspending certain taxes and fees especially in the tourism sector; a marketing campaign to promote Iceland as a tourism destination once the crisis is over; support for the construction and banking industries.

The government also announced that due to the drastic changes in economic conditions, a new financial plan would be presented in May.

FAROE ISLANDS

April 2020

30/04/2020 – 15h EDT

The Faroese government announced further easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday, saying that everything from museums to dentists’ offices to hairdressers to some schools could start reopening as of May 4.

The government will also allow gatherings of up to 50 people to take place as of Monday, as long as people can remain two metres apart.

The advisory against non-essential travel to this archipelago between Iceland and Norway remains in effect until June 30.

The Faroe Islands currently has six active cases of COVID-19. There have been 181 recoveries and no deaths.

16/04/2020 – 16h EDT

The government of this archipelago between Iceland and Norway has released further details of its gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in the region. 

On April 20, daycares will reopen and classes will also resume for children in grades 1-3. However, attendance is not compulsory if parents prefer to still keep their children at home.

Sporting events will be allowed to resume starting May 9, although the government is still recommending that games be played without spectators, even if outdoors.

The government also announced on their website that they’ve created an advisory group to help institutions, businesses and associations adapt their activities to respect COVID-19 health recommendations and guidelines.

The Faroe Islands has reported 184 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection and no deaths.

 

NORWAY

April 2020

30/04/2020 – 15h EDT

With the oil and gas industries, the main drivers of the Norwegian economy in financial freefall because of COVID-19, the national government announced changes to the tax system to enable stalled energy projects to go ahead. 

Among other measures, the government will postpone tax bills so energy companies can maintain enough liquidity to keep making investments. It’s estimated the measure could free up to 100 billion Norwegian kroner for investment during 2020 and 2021.

“The Norwegian oil and gas industry and supply industry are now in the midst of a crisis unlike anything else we have experienced,” said Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru, in a news release on Thursday.

“The measures we are presenting now are  like a shot in the arm, an incentive to carry out more development projects on the Norwegian continental shelf than would otherwise have been possible. Keeping up activity of this kind will safeguard jobs and maintain Norway’s competitive position along the whole value chain in our largest and most important industry. Our actions will also ensure continued value creation from our oil and gas resources and revenues to maintain our welfare system.” 

The government said more measures would be announced in May, including more details on a green restructuring package.

In other news, as of Thursday, Norwegian health authorities were reporting 7,710 total confirmed COVID-19 infections, up 62 from Wednesday, and 204 deaths since the pandemic began.

To date, 172,586  people have been tested for COVID-19 in Norway. The total population of Norway is approximately 5.4 million people.

29/04/2020 – 15h EDT

As of Wednesday, Norwegian health authorities were reporting 7,667 total confirmed COVID-19 infections, up 62 from Tuesday, and 202 deaths since the pandemic began. 

To date, 169,124  people have been tested for COVID-19 in Norway. The total population of Norway is approximately 5.4 million people.

27/04/2020 – 12h35 EDT

School re-opened on Monday for years 1- 4 in Norway, as the country gradually starts to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

“Slowly, but surely we’re fortunately going back to some sort of “normal” state,” said Norway’s Justice Minister Monica Maeland in a statement posted on the government’s website.

“But at the same time, we’ll be living with the consequences of the coronavirus for a long time.”

Last week, kindergarten classes were also allowed to resume. But on Saturday, Norway extended its ban on gatherings of over 500 people until September 1.

As of Sunday, Norwegian health authorities were reporting 7,533 total confirmed COVID-19 infections and 193 deaths since the pandemic began.

To date, 164,316  people have been tested for COVID-19 in Norway. The total population of Norway is approximately 5.4 million people.

24/04/2020 – 13h EDT

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) says 1,427,000 people have downloaded their app to help track COVID-19 infection in the country. 

The total population of Norway is approximately 5.4 million people.

The Smittestopp was released on April 16 to help gather anonymous data on coronavirus infection and how well containment measures were working. The app is also set up to notify users if they’ve been in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

As of Friday, the NIPH was reporting 7,408 total confirmed COVID-19 infections, up 63 from Thursday, and 191 deaths since the pandemic began.

To date, 155,125  people have been tested for COVID-19 in Norway.

23/04/2020 – 13h EDT

As of Thursday, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health was reporting 7,345 total confirmed COVID-19 infections, up 95 from Wednesday, and 180 deaths since the pandemic began. 

To date, 152,095 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Norway.

21/04/2020 – 12h EDT

As of Tuesday, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health was reporting 7,166 total confirmed COVID-19 infections and 163 deaths since the pandemic began. 

Of the confirmed cases, 3,664 people were infected in Norway and 1,615 people were infected while travelling abroad. For the remaining 1,887 cases, the transmission chain is unknown.

To date, 145,279 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Norway.

17/04/2020 – 12h30 EDT

Norway’s public health authority launched an app on Thursday that it hopes will help track the success of social and physical distancing measures against the spread of  COVID-19.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is asking as many people as possible to download the Smittestopp app, saying the more data they have, the higher quality information they’ll be able to generate.

The app will also issue alerts if the user has been in contact with an infected person, and will give advice to the user on what to do next.

All data collected will be anonymous, the NIPH said, and will allow health authorities to carefully monitor the spread of COVID-19 as Norway starts lifting coronavirus restrictions at the end of April.

Other Nordic countries have also been using technology to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Iceland launched an app earlier this month to track infection chains. Also in April, Sweden’s public health authority started using telephone data from Swedish phone company Telia, to help measure the impact of health recommendations to keep distance from others and avoid unnecessary travel.

As of Thursday, Norway was reporting 6,791 total confirmed COVID-19 infections and 136 deaths since the pandemic began.

15/04/2020 – 11h50 EDT

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health reported 111 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection on Wednesday, bringing total confirmed cases to 6,677.

There’s been 130 total deaths. The average age of deceased patients is 84.

Earlier this month, the coronavirus’ reproduction rate dropped to 0.7 per cent in Norway, with the government saying it would gradually start lifting coronavirus restrictions at the end of April.

10/04/2020 – 14h EDT

As of Friday, Norway was reporting 6,244 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 92 deaths. Testing has been done on 123,170 people countrywide out of Norway’s population of 5.4 million.   

The majority of the infections were transmitted in Norway (3,345). Travel-related infections accounted for 1,585 cases. Another 1,314 cases are still under investigation.

08/04/2020 – 15h30 

Norway will gradually start lifting COVID-19 restrictions at the end of  April saying coronavirus containment measures have worked. 

“By working together, we have got the virus under control, and can start to lift restrictions little by little,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a news release on Wednesday. “We will do this together, cautiously, and taking our time.” 

However, the government stressed that all businesses and institutions that reopen will be expected to respect strict government infection control guidelines. It also warned the population that directives like frequent handwashing, keeping 2 metres between people, and avoiding groups of more than five people unless you live with them, were remaining in place indefinitely.

“We have not won the battle against the virus, even though we now appear to have achieved our goal of reducing the reproduction rate – the number of people infected by each patient – to below one,” said Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Hoie.  “We must be prepared for a long period when strict infection control measures will continue to apply.”

Daycares and primary schools will be among the first to reopen, April 20 and April 27 respectively. Children that belong to groups vulnerable to the coronavirus, or who live with someone in an at-risk category, will not be required to return to in-person classes, and education officials are being asked to accommodate them as long as necessary.

Hairdressers and other businesses that involve one-on-one contact will also be permitted to reopen as long as they follow infection control measures.

And although the government is still discouraging travel between the different regions of Norway, it will lift the ban on people visiting their holiday properties as of April 20.

On Monday, Hoie announced that the coronavirus’ reproduction rate in Norway had dropped to 0.7 per cent from 2.5 per cent when the country locked down on May 12.

06/04/2020 

Norway’s Health Minister Bent Hoye says the country has got COVID-19 “under control” now that the coronavirus’ reproduction rate has dropped to 0.7 per cent, the Independent Barents Observer reported on Monday. 

The reproduction rate was 2.5 per cent before the countrywide shutdown on March 12.

As of Sunday, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health was reporting a total of 5,755 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Norway, and, as of Saturday, 59 deaths.

In other news, a proposal that would see businesses with at least a 30 per cent fall in revenue because of COVID-19 receive compensation from the government, was presented to the Storting, the Norwegian parliament, on Friday.

The money received would depend on how much revenues have declined, the amount of unavoidable fixed costs and whether the business was in one of the sectors that the government ordered to close in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“This measure is needed to avert unnecessary bankruptcies and preserve jobs so people still have a job to go to when we all take back our everyday lives,” said Finance Jan Tore Sanner in a news release on Monday.

The proposal would apply retroactively to March, as well as the months of April and May.

02/04/2020

As of Thursday, Norway was reporting 4,935 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 42 deaths. Testing has been done on 98,587 people countrywide.  

Some 180 patients have been hospitalized. Of those, the average age is 61 years old, and 76 per cent have been men.

The majority of the infections were transmitted in Norway (2,738). Of those, roughly half ( 1336) were acquired through contact with a previously known case, the other cases (1304) were the result of community transmission. Remaining transmission chains are still being tracked.

Travel-related infections accounted for 1,456 cases. Another 741 cases are still under investigation.

March 2020

30/03/2020

Norway has unveiled its most recent set of economic measures to help cushion the economic blow of the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing everything from extended unemployment insurance and sick leave as well as a range of grants and funds for businesses to help with everything from fixed costs to deferred interest payment plans.

“Norway now has the highest number of persons laid off and unemployed since World War II,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in an English-language news release on Saturday.

The battle to quell the infection is creating major problems for businesses and individuals across the country. The measures we are taking will help people and businesses to get through the crisis.” 

Further economic announcements will be made in the days and weeks ahead the government said.

As of Monday night local time, Norway had 4,445 total confirmed COVID-19 infections. Thirty-two people have died.

27/03/2020

Norway ramped up measures to stem the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, proposing measures to parliament that would aid everyone from the police and small business.

The government is proposing cash payouts to otherwise sustainable businesses dealing with the economic fallout from measures taken to respond to the pandemic. It’s also proposing changes that would make it easier for self-employed people to access sick leave benefits. The government is also suspending aviation charges and taxes on air passengers.

Also on Friday, the government announced 232 million Norwegian kroner in order to recruit up to 400 people for the police service. The recruits will be hired for six months, but may be in service for up to one year.

The Government is also allocating 5 million Norwegian kroner to the Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM) to strengthen digital infrastructure.

“We have seen that criminals and others are trying to exploit the COVID-19 crisis, for example to scam and defraud people,” said Norway’s Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland in a news release.

“Now that most of us are working from home, it is important for both companies and employees to be more vigilant with regard to cyber security.”

The government also said that people in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard were being severely affected by the economic downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic and that they would continue to closely follow the situation.

24/03/2020

Norway will be keeping the country on lockdown until April 13, saying although its drastic measures to contain COVID-19 infection seem to be working, more time is needed to evaluate their effectiveness. 

The country had previously closed day-care centres, schools, large and small businesses, restaurants, fitness centres and concert venues.

“We must continue our collective effort to stamp out the virus,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a news release on Tuesday.  “We know it is costly, but people across the country are following up. For that I would like to extend my thanks. We have made it through tough times before. And we will this time as well.”

As of Tuesday, Norway has reported 2,768 COVID-19 infections in total and 12 deaths.

Norway’s Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Hoie said the country’s health care system was excellent but it was important to maintain social distancing measures as long as needed to make sure that system does not get overwhelmed.

“Everything we do now is intended to make sure people will receive effective treatment if they become seriously ill,” he said. “We are firmly committed to the measures being practised across society to prevent excessive pressure on the health service.”

23/03/2020 

The Norwegian government has announced help for foreign workers on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard who’ve been affected by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“We are currently preparing a fixed-term benefit scheme for Longyearbyen,” Monica Mæland, Norway’s minster of Justice and Public Security said in a news release on Saturday, speaking of Svalbard’s administrative centre.

“This will ensure a certain level of income for foreign nationals in Longyearbyen not covered by the national measures and whose employment is temporarily suspended due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. This will aid in alleviating the acute and difficult situation which some are now experiencing.”

Svalbard, with a population of approximately 2,600, is heavily reliant on tourism, an industry all but shut down in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The Government is monitoring the situation in Svalbard closely,” said Olaug Bollestad, the minister of Agriculture and Food, said.

We acknowledge that the Longyearbyen community is considerably affected by the current crisis. We have established an ongoing communication with the Governor of Svalbard and Longyearbyen Community Council regarding the situation.”

As of Monday there were 2,547 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Norway and 10 reported deaths.

20/03/2020 

Norway’s central bank announced on Friday that it’s cut its key policy rate to 0.25 per cent from 1 percent to help combat the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic

The decision was made unanimously by Norges Bank’s Monetary Policy and Financial Stability Committee in an extraordinary meeting on Thursday.

The most recent cut was last week, but the bank said new measures were needed as the situation in the Norwegian economy continues to worsen, including the sharp depreciation of the Norwegian krone.

The measures to contain the spread of coronavirus have led to a number of businesses having to close or reduce their activities,” the bank said in a statement.

Many workers are being laid off, and unemployment has shown a marked increase. The negative impact on the world economy is intensifying, and oil prices have fallen further. Financial market stress has increased, and higher credit and money market premiums make funding more expensive for Norwegian enterprises.

The bank says Norway is overall in a good position to face the current crisis with strong banks and welfare arrangements. It said today’s announcement would help both Norwegian companies and families better navigate the current economic uncertainty as well as foster an eventual recovery in future.

Lower borrowing costs for existing and new loans can make it easier for Norwegian enterprises to weather a difficult period,” said the bank. “This can also help households facing reduced income. When the containment measures are scaled back and the situation returns to normal, low interest rates can support a faster rebound in activity.

The committee said they were prepared to reduce the policy rate further if necessary.

18/03/2020 

The Norwegian government has mobilised the Home Guard, which acts as a quick mobilisation force for the country’s Armed Forces, to assist police in securing Norway’s border as it beefs up surveillance and screening of cross-border traffic to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Independent Barents Observer reports that Home Guard soldiers were deployed in Norway’s northernmost Finnmark region, on the border with Finland, to assist police in their round-the-clock surveillance of the region due to the extraordinary measures enacted by authorities to combat the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The Norwegian government also announced new measures to support the struggling cultural and sports sectors of the economy on Wednesday.

The government unveiled a package of financial support for cultural establishments in the amount of about 300 million NOK ($26.5 million US) and a similar one for sport and voluntary sector activities of about 600 million NOK ($53.1 million US).

The scheme is intended to compensate for loss of income from ticket sales and participation fees as well as additional expenses associated with events that have had to be cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus, officials said.

It is a very demanding time for the culture, voluntary and sport sectors, with businesses, organisations, clubs, associations and individuals seeing their income completely or partially disappear almost overnight,” Minister of Culture and Equality Abid Q. Raja said in a statement, adding that the government “will do what we can to help remedy the situation.


17/03/2020

The Norwegian government is in talks with three airlines to encourage them to keep operating to ensure that Norwegian citizens stranded abroad because of the COVID-19 outbreak can return home, officials said Tuesday.

The government has told Widerøe, Norwegian airlines and SAS that Oslo is ready to cover additional costs of maintaining certain flights the airlines would otherwise have cancelled, or of making essential extraordinary flights to carry Norwegians who are travelling home through the end of March, officials said.

We are in a serious and unpredictable situation,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

It is becoming harder for many Norwegian citizens to return home because more and more countries are closing their borders and airspace and introducing states of emergency, she added.

The Government wants very much to help travelling Norwegians get safely home to Norway,” she said. “We are therefore working closely with SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe airlines to help Norwegian citizens who are now on trips abroad to return to Norway.”

16/06/2020 

Norway adopted new regulations on quarantine and isolation on Sunday. The regulations enter into force immediately and will remain in force until April 1, but an extension is possible, officials said.

There is an evident need for clear national rules about who is to be quarantined and isolated, and what that entails,” said Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie. “On Friday we clarified this for people coming to Norway from abroad. Now we are clarifying it for people who have been in close contact with someone who is infected.

Under the new regulations, anyone who has been in “close contact” with someone with a confirmed coronavirus infection will be quarantined. This does not apply to health personnel using proper protective equipment.

“Close contact” refers to being in proximity less than two metres from other persons for more than 15 minutes, or direct physical contact, Norwegian officials clarified.

The quarantine is to last for 14 days from the date when contact occurred. For persons who have arrived from abroad the quarantine period applies from the day they arrived in Norway.

The regulations provide for certain exemptions from the quarantine rules.

For example, people who travel in connection with work between their home and workplace, and in so doing cross the borders between Norway, Sweden and Finland, are exempt from quarantine when travelling to and from work.

The new regulations also provide greater clarity for those confined to isolation.

They stipulate that quarantined individuals who develop fever or respiratory symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath must be isolated at their home or “another suitable place” where they don’t have contact with other people or members of their household.

These persons are to remain in isolation from the time symptoms first appear until seven days after all symptoms are gone, the new rules stipulate.

Intentional or grossly negligent violation of provisions in the regulations is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to six months.

This means that the sentencing framework is substantially reduced in comparison with the maximum penalty under the law of a fine or imprisonment for two years,” officials said in a statement.

13/03/2020

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced Thursday that the country is essentially shutting itself down for two weeks, in a bid to stop the rapid spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 disease.

All schools, kindergartens, colleges and universities are closed with immediate effect. In addition comes stringent regulations on peoples’ traveling. Anyone coming home from abroad will be forced into home quarantine.

At the same time, sport halls and all organized sport activities are being halted.

“These measures are the the most dramatic ever taken in Norway in peace time,” Solberg said as she presented a series of unprecedented regulations.

“It will give a different life situation for everyone in the country.”

SWEDEN

April 2020

30/04/2020 – 15h30 EDT

The government announced a new proposal on Thursday to release an additional 39 billion Swedish kroner (SEK) to help businesses recover from the COVID-19 crisis. 

Any business that had a turnover of at least 250,000 SEK in the last fiscal year will be eligible for the relief, providing they’ve lost at least 30 per cent of that turnover since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The financial package will cover between 22.5 and 75 per cent of the business’s fixed costs in March and April.

The government estimates that some 180,000 businesses may be eligible for the support.

The proposal will be part of a budget amendment to be submitted in the coming weeks. The government hopes the initiative can come into force on July 1.

Also on Thursday, Sweden was reporting 21,092 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,586 deaths.

29/04/2020 – 15h EDT

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Sweden saw its manufacturing, retail, service and consumer confidence indicators free-fall in April, says the most recent Economic Tendency Survey from the National Institute of Economic Research.

“Not even during the (2008) financial crisis did these indicators decline as far in a single month,” the institute said in a news release on Wednesday.

Globally, the Economic Tendency Indicator plummeted 30 points from 92.5 to 58.6, with declines in the service sector, manufacturing, retail and consumer confidence indicators contributing to the drop.

The only consumer confidence indicator that appeared generally unaffected by COVID-19 was the building and civil engineering industry which decreased just over six points to 93, the survey said.

The Economic Tendency Survey is done every month and looks at business indicators including new orders, output and employment numbers, as well as consumer indicators such as household purchasing plans and savings.

27/04/2020 – 13h40 EDT

Some Stockholm bars and restaurants have been closed down by Sweden’s public health authority after they failed to enforce social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures.

“We all need to think about keeping our distance and avoiding crowding,” said Johan Carlson, the director general at Folkhalsomyndigheten, Sweden’s public health agency, in a news release.

“Restaurants must also contribute to slowing down the infection’s spread and it’s important that infectious disease doctors intervene when this doesn’t happen. And if Folkhalsomyndigheten’s advice isn’t complied with, it’s good that the infectious disease control units act.”

Folkhalsomyndigheten did not specify how many businesses were closed, but Radio Sweden, the country’s public broadcaster, reported that five establishments had been affected.

As of Friday, Sweden was reporting 18,926 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,274 deaths.

24/04/2020 -15h EDT

A Radio Sweden investigation has found that Sweden’s public health agency has underestimated the number of COVID-19 deaths in the country.

In a report published on Friday, Sweden’s public broadcaster found that deaths sometimes took several days to be recorded in the daily tallies, something that was skewing the authorities’ estimates.

State epidemiologist  Anders Tegnell told Radio Sweden he recognized the data delays but said Sweden’s death statistics were still among the most reliable in the world, saying they included deaths both in and outside hospitals among other criteria, saying many other jurisdictions were including only hospital deaths from the coronavirus.

As of Friday, Sweden was reporting 17,567 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,152 deaths.

For more news about the COVID-19 response in Sweden, visit Radio Sweden.

 

23/04/2020 – 15h EDT

Sweden’s public health authority released its revised COVID-19 modelling for Stockholm on Thursday, after an earlier version released this week was found to have had data input errors. 

The new report suggests that Stockholm’s peak occurred on April 8, not April 11, and that 70,500 people and not 400,000 people were likely affected at the time.

The modelling also suggests that 26 per cent of the population of Stockholm has been, or will be infected by COVID-19, by May 1.

As of Thursday, Sweden was reporting 16,755 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection (up 751 from Wednesday) and 2,021 deaths.

22/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Sweden’s public health authority is backtracking from Tuesday’s COVID-19 modelling for Stockholm, saying a data input error led to faulty results, reports Radio Sweden, the country’s public broadcaster

The agency said everything is being rechecked and a corrected version will be released Thursday.

As of Wednesday, Sweden was reporting 16,004 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,937 deaths. 

21/04/2020 – 13h30 EDT

The Stockholm region may have passed its COVID-19 peak, suggests new modelling from Folkhalsomyndigheten, Sweden’s public health agency. 

In a news release on Tuesday, the health authority said their modelling suggests 400,000 people in the region were likely infected, or had been infected, by April 11. There were 4,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases at the time.

The news release didn’t specify if its modelling was in reference to the greater Stockholm area with a population of approximately 1.6 million people, or the metropolitan Stockholm area with a population of approximately 2.2 million. The population of the city proper is approximately 975,000.

The health authority cautioned that just because the peak appeared to have passed, didn’t mean Swedes should relax social and physical distancing measures.

“We must all continue to be responsible for curbing the infection to protect the elderly and so the health system won’t be overburdened,” said Anders Tegnell, state epidemiologist at the health authority.

As of Tuesday, Sweden was reporting 15,322 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,765 deaths. 

20/04/2020 – 14h20 EDT

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) will change policy and restart commercial flights from Stockholm to the northern part of the country, Radio Sweden reported on Sunday

Flights to the Arctic city of Kiruna, and the northern towns of Lulea and Umea resumed on Monday.

The flights were deemed “critical” to a “functioning society,” Radio Sweden reports.

SAS had previously cut a number of routes after demand plummeted amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

17/04/2020 -13h30 EDT

Sweden’s Prime Minister is promising to up COVID-19 testing from health workers and patients, to also include first responders, police and other essential workers, Radio Sweden reported on Friday. 

Stefan Lofven said they were aiming to do 50,000 to 100,000 per week, the public broadcaster reported.

As of 11:30am local time on Friday, Sweden was reporting 13,216 total confirmed COVID-19 infections and 1,400 deaths.

16/04/2020 – 12h30 EDT

On Thursday, the government extended its entry ban to the European Union via Sweden until May 15.

In a news release, the government said it made the decision after the European Commission recommended the entry ban remain in effect.

The ban was first put in place on March 19th  to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The restriction was initially set to expire after 30 days.

The renewed ban still makes exceptions for citizens of EU member states, the United Kingdom, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The ban also does not apply to those deemed essential workers such as people working in health care or those transporting goods into the country.

In other news, at a press conference on Friday, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven renewed calls for the public to reduce travel and observe social distancing, Radio Sweden, the country’s public broadcaster, reports.

Sweden has attracted world attention for its refusal to put the country on lockdown or mandate social distancing requirements, instead saying it could rely on Swedes to do the right thing.

When pressed on whether Sweden was doing enough to contain the coronavirus at the Thursday press conference, Lofven said “we are doing what we need to do and what we believe is the right thing to do,” Radio Sweden reports.

15/04/2020 – 15h EDT

Sweden presented it’s spring budget on Wednesday, with 100 billion Swedish kroner largely geared towards responding to the COVID-19 crisis, covering everything from employment benefits to tax rebates. 

“The coronavirus pandemic is a serious threat to human life and health,” the government said in a news release on their website.

“In the wake of the serious economic consequences, the government, the Centre Party and the Liberals have put forward proposals to limit the spread of infection and mitigate the socio-economic consequences.”

As of Wednesday, Sweden was reporting 11,927 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection and 1,203 deaths.

14/04/2020 – 14h40 EDT

Sweden’s public health authority, Folkhalsomyndigheten, said long-distance travel was down significantly over the Easter weekend, a sign that Swedes were respecting health authorities COVID-19 directives. 

The information was gathered using anonymous and anatomized data from Swedish phone company Telia, the health agency said in a news release on Tuesday.

The health authority previously announced the telephone data program on April 8, saying it would help them better understand how the coronavirus was spreading in the country.

In other news, Radio Sweden, Sweden’s public broadcaster, is reporting that farmers are raising the alarm over the number of seasonal workers from eastern Europe getting caught up in the COVID-19 restrictions and being barred from entering the country. The farmers’ federation is asking the government to deem the workers as “essential” so there’s no negative impact on seasonal harvests. 

13/04/2020 – 13h30 EDT

As of Monday at 11:30am, Sweden was reporting 10,948 total confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 919 deaths. 

At an April 13 news conference, authorities from Sweden’s public health authority, Folkhalsomyndigheten, said there were currently 500 COVID-19 patients in the country’s intensive care wards.

Sveriges Radio, Sweden’s public broadcaster, reported on Monday that Anders Wallensten, the country’s deputy state epidemiologist, said while the cases were putting a burden on the system, it had not reached capacity.

He also said the number of patients hospitalized had remained stable for some time, a development he characterized as “positive” as Sweden battles the coronavirus.

09/04/2020 – 14h00 EDT

Approximately 2.5 per cent of Stockholm’s population had COVID-19 between March 27 and April 3 according to a study done by Sweden’s public health agency, Folkhalsomyndigheten, with the support of the Swedish Armed Forces.

Of the 1,100 people contacted to participate in the survey, 738 accepted, the health agency said in a news release on Thursday. Participants took the samples themselves then sent them for analysis. Study participants ranged in age from 2 years old to 86 years old.

Anyone who tested positive was contacted with further questions including about their symptoms.  Analysis of that second wave of data is currently being analyzed.

This week, the public health agency, again with support from the Swedish Armed Forces, have launched a second, similar study that will cover the entire country.

As of Thursday at 11:30am local time, Sweden’s health agency was reporting 9,141 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 793 deaths.  Some 719 patients have required intensive care.

08/04/2020

Sweden’s public health agency, Folkhalsomyndigheten is planning to start using telephone data to help track the spread of COVID-19 in the population. 

The data will be collected from customers of Swedish telephone company Telia.

In a news release on Wednesday, Sweden’s public health agency said that data gathered would be anonymous and anatomized. The agency says the information will shed light on how population movements are linked to COVID-19 spread and help measure the impact of health recommendations to keep distance from others and avoid unnecessary travel.

As of Wednesday at 11:30am, Sweden was reporting 8,419 total confirmed COVID-19 cases with 678 of those patients having required intensive care. There’s been 687 total deaths in the country since the pandemic began.

07/04/2020

Sweden’s public health authority, Folkhalsomyndigheten, will be launching a health survey to measure the prevalence of COVID-19 in the country, the agency said in a news statement on their website on Tuesday.

Random members of the public will be contacted in the coming days to see if they wish to participate. It’s hoped the survey will cover some 4,000 people.

The project is being launched to better understand how many people are actually infected with the coronavirus. Until now,  the health authority says, it’s mainly been only hospitalized patients that have been tested for COVID-19.

Sweden has 7,693 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 591 total deaths as of Tuesday at 11:30am.

06/04/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic will be a test for Swedish society, the government said in a news release on Monday, with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven warning the country to prepare for the long haul.

“This crisis will continue for a long time,” Lofven said. “It will be tough. But our society is strong. If everyone takes their responsibility, together we will overcome it.”

As of Monday, Sweden’s Public Health Agency was reporting 7,206 total COVID-19 cases and 477 deaths.

Sweden has refused to issue the kinds of shutdown orders seen in other countries around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Swedish authorities have called on the population to ‘do the right thing’ in their own lives.

“Every person in Sweden needs to take individual responsibility,” Lofven said. “If everyone takes responsibility, we can keep the spread of the virus in check. Follow the authorities’ advice: if you have even the slightest symptoms, do not go to work and refrain from meeting other people.”

On Sunday, Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf made a similar plea in a televised address, saying  “the choices we make now will live with us for a long time to come,” Radio Sweden reported.

02/04/2020

Sweden’s number of confirmed COVID-19 infections continued to climb on Thursday with 5,466 total confirmed cases and 282 total deaths, according to Sweden’s Public Health Agency.  The vast majority of the cases are in Stockholm, where there are 2,400 confirmed infections. Four-hundred and twenty-nine people have required intensive care.

In other news, Sweden is planning a spring budget amendment of several billion Swedish kroner that will be presented on April 15 to help cover, among other areas, increasing health related costs.

01/04/2020

With Sweden’s Public Health Agency reporting 4,947 total COVID-19 cases in the country and 239 deaths as of 11:30am local time on Wednesday, the government has issued new restrictions in an effort to slow the spread. 

Sweden continues to shy away from the kinds of sweeping business closures and travel restrictions put in place in neighbouring Norway (4,665 confirmed cases as of Wednesday), or in neighbouring Finland (1,446 confirmed cases as of Wednesday). But on April 1, Sweden called on sports organizations to cancel upcoming games or tournaments, for stores to limit the amount of people they allow in at one time and for the public to avoid travelling on public transport in rush hour or gathering in places with lots of people.

Also on Wednesday, the government introduced measures to discourage medication hoarding. Upon the request of the  Läkemedelsverket, the government agency that regulates drugs and medical devices in Sweden, pharmacies will now only be permitted to dispense a maximum three-month supply of prescription drugs.

In times of crisis like these, it’s even more important than usual that there’s equal access to drugs,” Lena Hallengren, Sweden’s Minister for Health and Social Services, said in a news release on the government website. “If people hoard medicines, there’s a risk that there won’t be enough for everyone. That’s why we’re facing this restriction.”

The new measure came into effect Wednesday and will last indefinitely.

March 2020

31/03/2020

Sweden’s finance minister painted a grim picture of the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic saying recovery efforts would take “several years.”

Swedish GDP is expected to drop by 4 per cent in 2020, Magdalena Andersson said in a news release on Tuesday, likening it to the 2008 financial crisis.

Unemployment is expected to rise to 9 per cent in 2020.

Falling tax revenues and ongoing fiscal measures initiated by the government in response to the crisis are also expected to create large deficits for public finances, although Andersson said the country’s low debt ratio made it better positioned to weather the storm than some other countries.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Radio Sweden reports the government has banned visits to seniors’ homes and is planning to up testing across the country.

As of Tuesday 11:30am local time, Sweden was reporting 4,435 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 180 deaths.

30/03/2020 

Sweden is preparing a major crisis package to help alleviate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced in a news release on Monday. 

The proposals cover everything from reducing wait times for unemployment insurance to increasing educational opportunities and vocational training around the country.

“The ongoing virus outbreak is having a major impact on the Swedish economy and many people have become, or risk becoming, unemployed,” the government said in a news release on Monday. “To alleviate the impact on the labour market, a crisis package for jobs and transition is now being presented.”

The proposal will soon be presented to the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament.

As of Monday night local time, Sweden was reporting 4,028 total confirmed COVID-19 infections and 146 deaths.

Sweden has attracted world attention for its refusal to put the country on lockdown amidst the coronavirus crisis.

On Sunday, Sweden’s public broadcaster Radio Sweden, reported that Karin Tegmark Wisell, department head at the country’s public health agency, said it was too soon to tell if Sweden’s strategy of keeping schools open and maintaining free movement, will be more successful than the lockdown measures put in place by many European countries, including neighbouring Norway.

27/03/2020

Sweden announced on Friday it’s banning gatherings of more than 50 people, down from the ban on gatherings of more than 500 people announced earlier in March.  

Radio Sweden, the country’s public broadcaster, reports that Prime Minister Stefan Lofven made the decision after speaking with the country’s Public Health Agency.

Sweden reported 296 new cases on Friday, the highest number in a 24-hour period so far.

The country’s public health agency is reporting 3,046 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 92 deaths in Sweden as of Friday evening.

 

26/03/2020

Sweden unveiled a sweeping set of measures on Thursday to help offset the financial impacts from actions taken to contain COVID-19 infections.

Many of the initiatives target small and medium businesses including 70 per cent guarantees from the government for new bank loans to companies in difficulty because of the pandemic.

The credit framework for the Swedish Export Credit Corporation, a state-owned agency, has also been increased from 125 billion Swedish kroner to 200 billion kroner. Credit guarantees will be increased to 500 billion Swedish kroner to reduce bank risk for giving export companies credit.

The government has also appointed a coordinator to liaise with the social and business sectors to gather information on how responses to the coronavirus pandemic are affecting the economy.

Anders Ferbe will report regularly to the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and will present a final report by December 31.

Also on Thursday, Jennie Nilsson, the  minister for Rural Affairs, met with trade organisations and unions, food companies and representatives for the food industry who’d asked for clear guidance on issues around the COVID-19 pandemic, like how to decontaminate their facilities if a worker becomes sick with the coronavirus.

25/03/2020

Sweden’s public broadcaster, Radio Sweden, is reporting that the country’s foreign ministry is recalling personnel from around the world amidst concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A spokesperson told Radio Sweden that the decisions were made based on the availability of health care resources in the various countries, the anticipation of travel restrictions, and whether personnel or their families had health issues making them more susceptible to the coronavirus.

As of Wednesday evening, Sweden was reporting 2,526 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 44 deaths.

So far, Sweden has stayed away from the country-wide shutdown seen in neighbouring Norway (which has 3,034 confirmed cases as of Wednesday), or from the type of increasing restrictions soon coming into effect in neighbouring Finland (which has 880 confirmed cases).

24/03/2020

As of March 24, there have been 2,286 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in Sweden and 36 deaths. Twenty-five of the confirmed cases are in the country’s northernmost county of Norrbotten.

Although the country has taken some measures to restrict the spread of the coronavirus, Radio Sweden, the country’s public broadcaster, is reporting that Sweden’s public health authority has no plans to recommend the strict travel measures and shutdowns undertaken in other places in Europe or in the UK.

The broadcaster quoted Sweden’s deputy state epidemiologist, Anders Wallensten, as saying  the country “should not shutdown” and that the measures taken to contain the spread of the coronavirus should depend on each country’s unique situation.

23/03/2020

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven addressed the nation on Sunday calling for national unity to help fight the spread of COVID-19 in the country. 

There are a few critical times in life when you must make sacrifices, not just for your own sake, but also for those around you, for your fellow human beings, and for our country,” Lofven said in an English translation of his speech posted on the Government of Sweden’s website.

That time is now. That day has come. And the duty is everyone’s.

Sweden has already undertaken a series of measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus in the country including banning gatherings of over 500 people and moving secondary school and university education online. However, Lofven cautioned further measures would likely be needed to manage the crisis.

Every person now needs to mentally prepare for what is coming,” he said.

I want you to be prepared for the possibility of further far-reaching decisions, sometimes at short notice, sometimes disrupting our everyday lives even more…

“Be prepared for this to continue for a long time.”

As of Monday, total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in Sweden number 2,046. There’s been 25 deaths and 16 patients have recovered.

18/03/2020

Sweden will be banning most travellers from outside the EU from coming into the country as of March 19, Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg announced Tuesday evening.

The announcement followed a meeting of the European Union’s leaders on Tuesday evening.

There are exceptions to the ban, Damberg said. People may travel to Sweden if they are registered as EU residents, or are medical staff, diplomats or researchers, or transporting important goods. Other exceptions can be made, for example for people with pressing family reasons.

The temporary travel ban applies for 30 days.

In the meantime, the Swedish military announced plans to build a field hospital to help health officials deal with the expected strain of the COVID-19 outbreak on Sweden’s civilian hospitals.

The field hospital will provide extra intensive care space for COVID-19 patients should they be necessary, Radio Sweden reported. The armed forces already provide Sweden’s Public Health Agency with support in dealing with the pandemic in the form of staff and materials.

The news comes amid warnings by Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell that the COVID-19 outbreak in the country could persist for at least another three or four months if it follows the same trajectory as it did in China or Italy.

17/03/2020

The government of Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén is recommending that all Swedish high schools, universities and adult education centres close as of Wednesday, and adopt distance education measures.

The move aimed at containing the spread of novel coronavirus was recommended by health authorities. Speaking to reporters in Stockholm, Löfvén said he expected educational institutions to act on the recommendation.

Students from high school and upwards are not to be in school but stay at home,” Löfvén said at a news conference.

Schools for children for grade 1-9 and kindergartens were to remain open for the time being.

Johan Carlson, head of the Swedish Public Health Agency, said the agency did not consider it was yet time to close primary schools or kindergartens, although there was a rise in the dissemination of the virus.

The Swedish government has presented additional measures to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, Finance Ministry officials said in a statement Monday. The proposals are based on an agreement between the Swedish Social Democratic Party, the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Green Party.

The government intends to present the proposals to the Swedish parliament, Riksdag, in the additional amending budget that is expected to be adopted on March 19, the statement said.

The proposed crisis package encompasses more than SEK 300 billion ($30 billion US), according to the statement.

The proposed package of measures includes short-term layoffs with employees guaranteed 90 per cent of their wages; the central government taking on the entire burden of sick pay for up to two weeks, a measure that would also include the self-employed; and deferral of payment of employers’ social security contributions, preliminary tax on salaries and value added tax.

16/03/2020  

Swedish health officials say people, especially in the Stockholm region, should work from home from now to minimize the spread of the illness, the public health agency announced Monday afternoon.

With more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the virus known as COVID-19, the Public Health Agency said community transmission is occurring – particularly in Stockholm. It’s when the disease spreads but the source of the infection is unknown.

As a result, people in the capital who can work from home should and anyone experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms should stay away from others to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum as well as protect those in at-risk groups – like the elderly or people with underlying medical conditions.

SourceRadio Sweden. Full article available here.

13/03/2020 

The coronavirus is the biggest threat to Sweden’s public health in decades, Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén said Friday as he announced a series of new measures to combat the spread of  COVID-19 in the country.

The new measures include the cancellation of the Högskoleprovet, the annual university admission exams, in Sweden. Löfvén also called on Swedes to think twice about travelling abroad, warning that the situation is changing hour by hour, borders could close and new rules about quarantine could be introduced.

Speaking at the same press conference the Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Lena Hallengren, called on people who feel any symptoms to stay home until they felt healthy again. “We all need to take responsibility to reduce the spread of the virus”, she said. Those that can work from home, should, she added.

12/03/2020

The Swedish government has banned all gatherings of over 500 people to try and stop the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Sweden’s public health agency made its recommendation to the government public on Wednesday as it said that it wanted to “prevent occasions when a large number of people come from different parts of the country, and perhaps also from abroad, and gather in one place.”

However, unlike neighbouring Norway and Denmark, Sweden has not shut down schools and universities.

FINLAND

April 2020

30/04/2020 – 15h30 EDT

Finland put forth proposed amendments to the country’s transport legislation on Thursday that would allow people to retain valid driver’s licenses during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if required medical certificates haven’t been filed. 

In Finland, several categories of drivers are required to submit medical certificates in order to keep their licenses, such as people over 70, train conductors, or the operators of heavy transport vehicles over 45.

However with COVID-19 restrictions, and physical and social distancing directives in place, the government said it was increasingly receiving complaints about the difficulties of obtaining the certificates and financial fallout from being unable to renew licenses.

“The initiative for introducing the now proposed temporary amendments to the legislation has come directly from citizens and businesses, organisations and authorities in the transport sector,” said Finland’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Timo Harakka, in an news release.

“This legislative proposal brings desired relief to people’s everyday lives and ensures the continuity of transport operations that are essential in society.”

The majority of the proposals would give drivers until October 31st to file required medical certificates without risk of license suspension.

The proposal is now working its way through Parliament.

Also on Thursday, Finland updated its latest COVID-19 statistics, reporting 4,995 total confirmed cases, up 89 from Wednesday, and 211 deaths. An estimated 3,000 people have recovered.

29/04/2020 – 15h EDT

Finland has given the green light to reopening schools, saying in-person teaching can resume as early as May 14.

The government made the announcement on Wednesday saying health authorities said there were no longer epidemiological reasons to keep students out of the classrooms.

The reopening will affect early childhood education institutions or care centres as well as primary and lower secondary schools.

Once the schools are reopened, distance teaching will no longer be allowed, the government said.

The government said decisions on upper secondary education and higher education will be made at a later date.

As of Wednesday, Finland was reporting 4,906 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, up 166 from Tuesday, and 206 deaths. An estimated 2,800 people have recovered.

27/04/2020 – 14h EDT

Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is scrambling to figure out how to make up for the hundreds of seasonal farm workers from Ukraine unable to come to Finland because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ukraine has blocked its citizens from leaving the country because of the coronavirus crisis, stranding the 1500 workers destined for Finnish farms.

“The decision means that charter flights scheduled for the next few days and weeks to bring seasonal workers to Finland will be cancelled,” the ministry said in a news release on Monday.  “Updated information will be provided as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, the ministry suggested that farms try to hire domestically.

“The future development of the travel restrictions concerning seasonal workers from Ukraine, and other countries too, remains unclear,” the ministry said.

As of Monday, Finland was reporting 4,695 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, up 119 from Sunday, and 193 deaths. An estimated 2,500 people have recovered.

24/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has tested negative for COVID-19, the government said in a news release on Friday. 

Marin had no symptoms but had been self-isolating on Thursday after a worker at her official residence was found to have had contact with a person with a confirmed coronavirus infection.

Marin returned to her normal work schedule on Friday, the government said.

As of Friday, at 5:15pm local time, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare was reporting 4,284 total confirmed COVID-19 infections, up 155 cases from Wednesday. There have been 172 deaths.

23/04/2020 – 15h45 EDT

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin is self-isolating after a worker at the prime minister’s residence had contact with a person with a confirmed COVID-19 infection, Yle News, Finland’s public broadcaster reported. 

Marin has no coronavirus symptoms but will undergo testing as a precaution, Yle News reported.

As of Thursday at 4:40pm local time, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare was reporting 4,284 total confirmed COVID-19 infections, up 155 cases from Wednesday. There have been 172 deaths.

22/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Finland is preparing its ‘exit strategy’ from measures put in place to contain COVID-19 but said things will be done “gradually” and in a “controlled way.”

“The restrictive measures cannot all be lifted at once, because the situation is still serious,” the government said in a news release on Wednesday.

A detailed plan is expected to be ready by May 1 but decisions on day care and early childhood education are expected to be announced earlier so schools, teachers and administrators have time to plan, the government said.

Gatherings of more than 500 people will continue to be banned until July 31st.

As of Wednesday at 4:50pm local time, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare was reporting 4,129 total confirmed COVID-19 infections, up 115 cases from Tuesday. There have been 149 deaths.

21/04/2020 – 15h EDT

As of Tuesday at 6:45pm local time, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare was reporting 4,014 total confirmed COVID-19 infections, up 146 cases from Monday. There have been 141 deaths and the median age of the deceased has been 83.

Simopekka Vanska, a researcher at the institute, says confirmed infection numbers are down across the country and that the peak appears to have passed, Yle News, Finland’s public broadcaster, reports.

Vanska told Yle News the trajectory of the virus in the coming weeks will depend on how and when the government starts lifting restrictions, saying current coronavirus modeling is based on social and physical distancing measures being maintained.

20/04/2020 – 15h30 EDT

As of Monday at 5:50pm local time, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (FIHW) was reporting 3,868 total confirmed COVID-19 infections and 2,526 recoveries. 

There’s also been 98 reported deaths, although the FIHW said COVID-19 related deaths occurring outside of hospitals were not being included in the final total at this time.

Earlier, the Länsi-Pohja healthcare district in southwestern Lapland announced its first COVID-19 death, Yle News, Finland’s public broadcaster, reported on Sunday. The doctor that announced the death for the district said he believed the individual had died in a nursing home, Yle News said.

In other news, on Friday,  Finland launched the #FinlandForward #together campaign to highlight how individuals and organizations were pitching in to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government said it was an effort to amplify the positive actions people were taking in response to the crisis.

“We are grateful to see that so many people, organisations and businesses are willing to help and support others,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a news release on Friday.

 “Someone may go to the shop on behalf of an elderly person, another helps a pupil with their distance learning assignments, and a third works to safeguard the health and wellbeing of others. Big and small acts, all of which are needed in these difficult times.”

The campaign will remain in effect until January 2021, but the government said its goal is that the campaign can continue on in some form after that date.

17/04/2020 – 15h EDT

As of Friday at 5:50pm local time, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (FIHW) was reporting 3,489 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 82 deaths. 

However, one of the country’s hospital districts said on Friday that deaths may be underreported as they don’t include nursing home fatalities, Yle News, Finland’s public broadcaster reports.  

The FIHW told Yle News they would start including nursing home deaths in their COVID-19 statistics, starting next week.

16/04/2020 – 15h EDT

Finland’s economy is set to shrink by 5.5 per cent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, says the latest economic survey from Finland’s Ministry of Finance. 

According to the report, the government deficit is set to rise by almost 14 billion euros to 16.6 billion euros, or 7.2 per cent of GDP.

Characterizing the pandemic and the resulting mitigations measures taken around the world to stop the coronavirus’ spread as “unprecedeted” in “speed and scale,” the report says it expects Finland’s finances to remain “substantially in deficit” in coming years.

“Everything depends on how deeply the economy plunges and how long it stays there,” said Mikko Spolander, director general of the Economics Department at the Ministry of Finance, in a news release on Thursday.

The Ministry of Finance says for each month COVID-19 measures like travel restrictions and mandated business closures remain in place, Finland’s GDP is likely to shrink by 1.5 to 2 per cent.

“The danger is that the longer the economy suffers, the greater the difficulty in reviving it,” Spolander said.

15/04/2020 – 13h30 EDT

The travel ban to and from the Helsinki capital area was lifted four days early on Wednesday, with the government saying the COVID-19 situation in the area had stabilized enough that the restriction could no longer be legally justified. 

The ban came into effect on March 28 after coronavirus cases in the Uusimaa region began to increase significantly faster than in the rest of the country. The restriction had been set to expire on April 19.

“In making the decision to lift the restrictions, the Government has relied on the assessment of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare concerning the development of the epidemic,” the government said in a news release posted on their website on Wednesday.

However, the government said it was still recommending against any leisure travel to and from the region and to and from other areas of Finland. Social and physical distancing requirements must also still be observed.

As of Wednesday at 5:55pm, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare was reporting 2,038 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Uusimaa region, with over half of that number in Helsinki.

Finland has 3,237 total confirmed cases overall and 72 people have died.

14/04/2020 – 15h00 EDT

Following a Nordic business ministers’ meeting earlier this month to discuss COVID-19, Finland says close cooperation will be key to rebuilding the economies of northern Europe in the aftermath of the pandemic.  

“The world as we know it may be changed forever, but the Nordic minister are confident that the Nordic countries can take a leading role in adapting to this new reality, relaying on our common Nordic values as well as our unwavering focus on sustainability and integration,” said a statement posted Tuesday on the website of Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

In the short term, the Nordic ministers will establish a cross-border working group to see where Nordic countries can work together to reboot their respective economies.

13/04/2020 – 12h00 EDT

Finland’s managing director of the country’s National Emergency Supply Agency, Tomi Lounema, resigned on Friday after a face-mask fiasco saw the agency spend millions of euros on sub-standard personal protective equipment.

Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment accepted the resignation and appointed Janne Kankanen as interim leader starting April 11, saying it was important to reinstill public confidence in the agency.

“In this challenging situation, the most important thing is to safeguard the capacity of the National Emergency Supply Agency to make critical procurements needed by Finland in the fight against coronavirus,” said Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen.

As of Monday at 1:35pm, Finland was reporting 3,064 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 59 deaths.

10/04/2020 – 12h00 EDT

Finland’s Ministry of Family Affairs and Social Services, which includes responsibility for the health file, announced on Thursday that Finland plans to ramp up the number of COVID-19 tests in the country to 10,000 per day. 

In a statement posted on the government website, Minister Krista Kiuru said coronavirus testing involves several steps from assessment of symptoms, to sampling, sample analysis and  follow up; and that increasing testing means being able to increase capacity at each step simultaneously.

Both hospitals and private health care operators have implemented plans to increase testing; and drive-in test points and mobile test units will also be put in place, Kiuru said.

In addition to people showing COVID-19 symptoms, or who’ve had contact with an infected person, the increased testing capacity will also target health care and social services workers, as well as those in professions deemed essential to “the functioning and security of society” like police, if they have “the slightest suspicion of infection.”

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said in its most recent situation update on Friday that around 4,000 samples were currently being analysed each day.

As of 4pm local time on Friday, Finland was reporting 2,769 total confirmed COVID-19 infections and 48 deaths.

09/04/2020 – 11h30 EDT

With global demand for personal protective equipment putting stress on existing supply chains, Finland’s National Emergency Supply Agency is upping domestic production of face masks and respirators to meet local demand, Yle News, Finland’s public broadcaster, reported on Thursday. 

Sources quoted in the story say one contract, with Finnish company Lifa Air, announced on Wednesday, would not be enough to completely meet Finnish demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that discussions with two other domestic manufacturers were ongoing.

As of Thursday at 4pm local time, the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare, was reporting 2,605 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection. Forty-two people have died.

08/04/2020

Finland announced a supplementary budget of billions of euros on Wednesday to be directed to everything from COVID-19 equipment purchases, to income support for those who’ve lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

Among the monies announced is 1.2 billion euros for unemployment security, social assistance and housing allowances and 600 million euros for protective equipment, medical devices and medications, the government said in a news release.

Yle News, Finland’s public broadcaster, described the proposed supplementary budget, at 4.1 billion euros in total, as the biggest in modern Finnish history.

As of Wednesday at 4:30pm local time, Finland was reporting 2,487 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, 1,568 of which are in the Uusimaa region which contains the capital city of Helsinki. There’s been 40 reported deaths.

07/04/2020

Finland adopted strict new border measures on Tuesday to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Travel for essential work will still be allowed but employees will be required to present a certificate from their employer explaining how their work falls into that category, before Finnish authorities will allow them to cross the border.

The measures are being taken to reduce cross-border, work-related movement along the Swedish and Norwegian borders.

The government is also recommending that maritime shipping companies stop the sale of passenger tickets from Germany, Estonia and Sweden to Finland from April 11 on.

The new measures will be in place until May 13.

The government said prior measures put in place at Finland’s external and internal borders has already produced results. Border traffic between Finland and neighbours Norway and Sweden, is already down 95 per cent, a news statement said, with between 80 and 90 per cent of current traffic being freight transport only.

The government said in a statement on Tuesday that further restrictions on border traffic will be put in place if necessary.

As of April 7 at 3pm local time, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare was reporting 2,308 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 34 deaths.

06/03/2020

Finland has extended its closure of education institutions until May 13 in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The decision was made after discussions with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (FIHW).

“The aim is to slow down the spread of coronavirus infections by reducing contacts between pupils, students, teaching staff and other personnel at all levels of education,”  the government said in a news release on Monday.

As of Monday at 5:20pm local time, Finland had 2,176 total confirmed COVID-19 cases with 1,362 of those in the Uusimaa region which contains the capital city of Helsinki, the FIHW said in a news release.  There’s also been twenty-seven deaths.

Yle News, Finland’s public broadcaster, reported on Monday that the institute will now undertake a study to investigate why the disease progresses differently in different people and what risk factors might help predict the severity of the infections. 

02/04/2020

Finland’s government is proposing a host of changes to unemployment benefits to help people who’ve lost their jobs because of COVID-19 mitigation measures. 

Among the changes are abolishing the waiting period before being able to access funds and shortening the employment period a person would have had to work from 26 weeks to 13 weeks before being able to access benefits. The initiatives will apply retroactively from March 16.

“A broad range of means must be deployed to alleviate the adverse economic and social impacts of the measures taken to restrict the spread of the coronavirus,” Finland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen said in a news release on Thursday.

The government said it will have the new measures enter into force as soon as possible. They’ll be in effect until July 6.

In other news, Yle News, Finland’s public broadcaster, is reporting that Finland’s Security and Intelligence Service (Supo) is warning that  “prolonging the exceptional circumstances may result in an increase in threats to national security”.

As of Thursday at 5:45pm local time, Finland was reporting 1,518 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 19 deaths.

01/04/2020

The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (FIHW) reported as of Wednesday at 6:50pm local time that there were 1,446 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.

The FIHW said in its Wednesday update that most cases have been mild but that the risk of infection has increased throughout the country. Currently 159 people have been hospitalized, 62 put in intensive care and 17 have died.

Finland’s Social Services Minister Krista Kiuru says Finland is now working to double its coronavirus testing capacity from 2,500 a day, Yle News, Finland’s public broadcaster, reported on Wednesday.

In other news, Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment announced the creation of a working group on Wednesday to evaluate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and any actions that could be taken to control the damage to the Finnish economy.

March 2020

31/03/2020

Finland is extending emergency measures to contain COVID-19 until May 13, the government announced Monday evening. Restrictions on early childhood education, teaching and education and training are also in place until that date.

The government also announced it was banning passenger traffic by boat and limiting sea transport to shipping goods.

On Tuesday, the government will be preparing a decree to present to Parliament that would close all cafés, restaurants and places where alcohol was served until May 31. Take out would still be permitted.

As of March 31 at 4pm local time, the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (FIHW) was reporting 1,384 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country and 17 deaths.

30/03/2020 

Finland is reporting 1,313 total confirmed COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths as of Monday according to the most recent statistics from The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (FIHW). 

There are currently 143 hospitalised patients. Forty-nine of them are in intensive care.

The risk of infection has increased throughout Finland, and Finland is preparing for a larger scale epidemic,” the FIHW said in their Monday update.

To date, the majority of Finland’s cases have been in the Uusimaa region, which contains the capital city of Helsinki, in the southern part of the country.

Travel restrictions in and out of the region came into effect on Saturday in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus and prevent those travelling to Helsinki from bringing infections back to more sparsely populated regions of the country where local health care systems could be overwhelmed.

Healthcare facilities in the rest of Finland are based on the population of each region, which is why these services do not have the capacity to provide any significant additional specialised medical care,” the Finnish government said on their website.

The travel ban is being enforced by police and applies to everyone, with some exceptions including the military and essential services.

27/03/2020 

The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare is reporting 7 COVID-19 related deaths as of Friday 6pm local time. 

Six of the deaths occured in Helsinki in the Uusimaa region, in the southern part of the country. Travel restrictions in and out of the region were put in place as of Friday.

To date, there’s been 1,025 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Finland.  One-hundred and eight patients have been hospitalized and 32 are in intensive care.

26/03/2020

As of March 27, the government of Finland is restricting travel to and from the Uusimaa region, which includes the capital city of Helsinki, in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the area.  

The restrictions will be in effect until April 19, 2020.

Supply chain transportation will not be affected by the travel ban, but Uusimaa residents will not be permitted to leave, and those outside the region will not be permitted to enter.

Exemptions to the ban include essential services work, including media, or in emergency cases, such as death of a family member.

Police will be monitoring the ban and people are required to respond to any police inquiries concerning reasons for individual travel, the government said.  Failure to comply with the new restrictions can result in a fine.

No restrictions have been put on travel within the Uusimaa region.

As of 3:15pm local time on Thursday, the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare was reporting 958 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country and four deaths. 

25/03/2020 

Finland is setting up strict airport measures in preparation for the large number of repatriation flights that will be sent around the world to bring Finnish nationals back to the country amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced in a news release on Wednesday.

Upon arrival, border guards will distribute information on the 14-day self quarantine requirements from authorities, while healthcare workers and the Finnish Red Cross will meet all arriving flights and advise passengers on the health mitigation measures to be taken.

Finavia, the authority that administers Finland’s airport network, will also be asking arriving passengers to maintain a 1 metre distance between each other and avoid tight lineups at the border checks.

Arrivals will also be asked to avoid taking public transit.

The most recent data out of Finland Wednesday evening local time shows 880 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and three deaths.

Yle News, Finland’s public broadcaster, reported on Wednesday that Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen said the military was ready to help enforce movement restrictions if needed, should they be imposed in the Uusimaa region.

On Tuesday, the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare, said there’d been an increasing number of coronavirus infections in the area, which includes the capital city city Helsinki.

24/03/2020

Finland’s government will present a new slate of restrictions to parliament on Wednesday in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Finland’s public broadcaster, Yle News, reported on Tuesday.  

In addition to measures such as restaurant closures that Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced on Twitter on Monday, Yle News is reporting that the government is also working on travel restrictions to and from the Uusimaa region, which includes the capital city of Helsinki, and area with the highest rate of COVID-19 infections in the country.

As of March 24, the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare was reporting 792 confirmed COVID-19 infections in the country and one death. Seventy-three of the patients are currently hospitalised and 17 are in intensive care. The institute said not all infection chains are known, but that authorities are continuing the efforts to establish infection chains whenever possible.

23/03/2020 

With 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Finland as of Monday 16:30 local time, Prime Minister Sanna Marin warned that the government is preparing a suite of measures, including restrictions on movement and the closures of private facilities like restaurants, to help stem the pandemic.  

The government is ready to take all necessary measures to contain the pandemic, ensure the capacity of our health care system and protect those at risk,” Marin tweeted on Monday.

“Our legislation sets a strict framework for government action.”

She has not yet specified when the new restrictions will come into effect.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare reports that most cases of COVID-19 to date have been mild. Fifty patients with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized in the country. Thirteen of them are in intensive care. To date, there’s been one confirmed death from COVID-19 in Finland.

20/03/2020

Finland announced a raft of measures on Friday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They include everything from a reallocation of medical resources to hiring more police officers.

The country’s hospital districts have been instructed to reallocate non-urgent care capacity in order to provide treatment to patients infected with the coronavirus. The government decree allows hospitals to diverge from current time limits for providing non-urgent medical treatments. However, the government stressed that the three week time limit to do care assessments in non-urgent cases still needs to be respected.

The government also submitted a supplementary budget proposal that will provide police, rescue services and border guards 9.2 million euros for costs related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The allotment is intended to cover hiring more people as well as covering increased occupational health expenditure along with cleaning and supplies.

Additional personnel will facilitate the workload in the police units and enable us to maintain the security of the police and citizens at the highest possible level,” Finland’s Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo said in a news release.

Also, with the country’s border guards stretched to capacity since Finland reintroduced border control at the EU’s internal borders between March 19 and April 13,  part of the money will also be used to rehire any border guards who have retired in recent years.

In all, the Finnish government announced a supplementary budget of around 400 million euros to help offset the economic impacts of the pandemic. Besides the  proposal’s focus on authorities, it also included increases to the appropriations allocated to companies.

The government says further supplementary budgets will be introduced in the coming weeks.

It estimates the total cost of the measures to be taken will be approximately 15 billion euros.

18/03/2020

Finland reported 359 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday as the country prepared to shut its borders on March 19.

No coronavirus deaths have been reported in Finland as of Wednesday, but three people are in intensive care with the disease, Yle News reported.

COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed both among tourists infected elsewhere and those infected in Finland, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said in a press release. Currently, there are only a few cases for which the origin cannot be traced, the THL said.

In the meantime, Education Minister Li Andersson urged parents to keep their children at home even if daycares remain open across the country.

Andersson said that daycare centres remained open to ensure the basic functioning of society, and to prevent the possibility that young children would be left with elderly grandparents who, because of their age, are more at risk of serious complications from coronavirus.

“We also want to ensure that parents can continue to work, if they have the chance,” said Andersson. “Experts have warned that if early-years education centres are closed, there’s a greater probability that care responsibilities would transfer to grandparents.”

17/03/2020 

Health authorities in Finland confirmed 319 cases of novel coronavirus on Tuesday as the country prepared for a nation-wide emergency to combat the pandemic.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said the majority of cases (180) were reported by the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa in southern Finland.

Finland’s northernmost region of Lapland reported three cases and the Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District had 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19, THL said in its daily update.

The Finnish parliament was expected to vote on the implementation of the Emergency Powers Act on Tuesday.

On Monday, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and members of her administration declared a national state of emergency and outlined a long list of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

These measures include the closure of schools, educational institutions and universities, restrictions to public meetings, mobility and visits to health care units, and increases to social welfare and health care capacity.

In addition, the borders of Finland will be closed. These measures will remain in force until April 13, 2020.

16/06/2020

The Finnish government announced on Monday nationwide school closures in order to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Starting on Wednesday, schools will be shut until April 13, Yle News reported. Parents in jobs critical to the functioning of society who have children in grades 1-3 can send their children to specially-arranged care.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced the move at a press conference on Monday.

She said that daycare centres would remain open but that parents who can should keep their children at home.

Marin said that the government would bring emergency powers legislation before parliament on Tuesday. In a statement the government said that it had agreed with President Sauli Niinistö that emergency conditions prevailed in Finland because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government also published a 19-point list of emergency legislation that takes effect on 18 March after approval by parliament on Tuesday.

For more details of the government announcement, visit Yle News.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 272 laboratory-confirmed cases caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) as of 14:00 local time on March 16.

While the majority of cases (149) were reported by the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa in southern Finland, the country’s northernmost region of Lapland reported three cases and the Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District had 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the THL statistics.

President Niinistö and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the coronavirus situation by phone on Monday, Yle News reported.

The Presidents discussed the situation created by the coronavirus and its implications for the Finnish-Russian border,” Yle News quoted a readout of the phone conversation between the two leaders released by the Finnish side. “Both agreed that the containment of the virus called for broad-based international cooperation. President Niinistö underlined the importance of an ongoing exchange of information.

According to the Kremlin press service, “the sides have agreed that possible decisions on border checkpoints operation would be taken in close cooperation between relevant services and agencies.

Niinistö also underscored the importance of information sharing,” according to the Russian news agency Tass.


13/03/2020

Finland’s government has called for the cancellation of events that could draw more than 500 people in an effort to fight the spread of novel coronavirus.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin urged organisers of smaller events to consider scrapping those as well.

“Citizens should monitor and comply with travel advisories and must file travel notifications if they must travel,” Marin said. “Additionally, major events will be cancelled and of course in their own daily lives, people would do well to especially consider others belonging to risk groups and non-essential activities should also be avoided — such as hobbies for example.”

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, the Finnish prime minister said the government was also recommending that people work remotely if at all possible, consider not going to hobbies and sporting activities, and to use extreme caution around the elderly and other at-risk groups.

RUSSIA

April 2020

30/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Komi Republic:  With COVID-19 numbers continuing to mount in this region in northwest Russia, the local government has prolonged its emergency measures until May 11.

It also made changes to the decree, including a requirement that anyone arriving in the region must now self-isolate and refrain from using public transit or having contact with others during that period, including family members.

As of Thursday, the region reported 621 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, up 10 cases from Wednesday, the government said in a news release.
To date, 64 people have recovered and seven people have died authorities say.

Nenets Autonomous Okrug: The regional government in this area of northern Russia has put five oil fields in quarantine in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Check points and barriers will be put up to block entrances to, and exits from, the Varandey, Toboisky, Toraveysy, Myadseysky and Perevoznoye oil fields.

A government news release on Thursday said there were now 34 cases of COVID-19 in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug but did not give a breakdown of where they were located.

In a separate statement, authorities said that 25 patients with the coronavirus were being treated in Varandey, but that their symptoms were all mild. It said another 232 people at the site were in self-isolation.

Chukotka Autonomous Okrug: The government in this Arctic region of Russia’s Far East has extended its decree requiring residents to self-isolate until May 15.

“This will help us overcome the dangerous peak of the epidemic as safely as possible,” said regional Governor Roman Kopin in a statement posted Thursday on the Chukotka government’s website.

As of April 30, the region was reporting 17 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, with one person recovered.

29/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): With confirmed COVID-19 cases increasing in the capital city of Yakutsk over the last week and half, the regional governor is calling on the population to self-isolate as much as possible over the next two weeks in order to slow the infection’s spread.

In a news release on Wednesday, Governor Aisen Nikolaev said over the last 10 days, 10 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed almost daily in Yakutsk.

While most infection chains could be linked to family and co-workers, he said several infection sources could not be determined.

“We must keep the population as close to home as possible and prevent mass gatherings,” he said, calling municipal leaders to restrict trips to the countryside of their respective regions as well as access to outdoor recreational areas like forests over the next 14 days.

The government news release gave no update on global COVID-19 statistics for Yakutia.

27/04/2020 – 15h30 EDT

Murmansk Oblast: This northwesternmost region of Russia reported 989 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in their region as of Sunday.

Eight-hundred and seven of those cases alone were at a construction site in the village of Belokamenka in the region’s Far North, Murmansk authorities said on the region’s  VKontakte page, a Russian social media platform.

The construction site is run by Novatek, a Russian gas company.

Regional authorities also said, as of Sunday,  71 people with the coronavirus had recovered and 4 people had died.

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): Travel between municipal and urban districts in this region of northeastern Russia is banned as of April 28, as authorities seek to further contain the spread of COVID-19.

Exemptions to the new decree include travel for emergency medical care or any travel related to a profession considered an essential service, the government said in a news release.

The government gave no update on total confirmed COVID-19 statistics  for their region in their Monday update.

Komi Republic:  This region in northwest Russia reported 590 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection on Monday, up 12 cases from Sunday, the government said in a news release.
To date, 58 people have recovered and six people have died authorities say.

Yamalo-Nenets Okrug: As of Monday, this region of northeastern Russia is reporting 375 cases of COVID-19 infection.

24/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Chukotka Autonomous Okrug: The government in this Arctic region of Russia’s Far East announced on Friday it now had 9 new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Four of the individuals were officially diagnosed on April 22 and the other five positive cases were identified during contact tracing, the government said in a news release on Friday.

Health authorities say they expect the number of confirmed cases to increase as contact tracing continues.

As of Friday, the region has had 10 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus. One patient has recovered.

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): The government in this part of northeastern Russia has reported seven new COVID-19 cases since Thursday.

In a news release on Friday, the government said five of the seven cases were in the capital city of Yakutsk. Two of the five were related to previously confirmed cases with the source of the other cases is still being investigated.

The news release gave no new global total COVID-19 number for Yakutia, but said that Aldan, a town of approximately 20,000 people, currently has 43 total confirmed cases, the highest number in the republic.

Komi Republic:  The government in this region of northwest Russia has further expanded rent relief for small and medium sized businesses affected by COVID-19 mitigation measures.

In a news release on Friday, the government said the measures would cover the period from March 1 until the state eventually relaxes the coronavirus measures. Depending on the type of business, rent may be decreased by 50 per cent or deferred completely.

As of Friday, this area of northwest Russia was reporting 533 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in their region. Local authorities also reported that 28 patients had recovered and that there’d been four deaths.

22/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): The government in this part of northeastern Russia reported 10 new COVID-19 cases since Tuesday, saying eight of them were related to a particular construction site where two cases were previously identified.

The other two cases were family members of a previously infected person in the city of Yakutsk, regional governor Aysen Nikolayev said in a news release on Wednesday.

The news release did not specify the age or circumstances of the infections further, but Nikolayev said individuals had to be more responsible about observing self-isolation and physical and social distancing.

“It’s unacceptable when pensioners visit shopping centers and large stores and have contact with a large number of relatives and acquaintances at the same time they themselves have the coronavirus infection,” he said.

“Because afterwards, hundreds of people are involved in their contact circle who are now forced to take tests and observe quarantine. That’s why compliance with the self-isolation regime is a matter of security for each of us.”

The government news release gave no updated statistics on global coronavirus numbers or hospitalizations for Yakutia.

21/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: The government in this region of northern Russia says it will increase enforcement of self-isolation and social distancing requirements.

A government news release on Tuesday gave no updated COVID-19 figures for the region, but said the “spread of coronavirus infection” was continuing, and the settlements of Pangody and Hanimay had been put in quarantine.

It said authorities would issue increased fines for people who continued to ignore social and physical distancing measures.

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): The government in this part of northeastern Russia said its aviation industry has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and that it’s submitted proposals to federal authorities to help regional airlines weather the current economic uncertainty.

The health of the aviation industry is critical to Yakutia, where many communities are fly-in only, the government said in a news release on Tuesday.

Passenger traffic was down 45 to 50 per cent in the region, regional authorities say.

Also on Tuesday, regional governor Aysen Nikolayev described the current COVID-19 situation in Yakutia as “tense” saying five new coronavirus cases had been confirmed within the last 24 hours. The government news release did not give updated total coronavirus figures for the region.

Komi Republic: As of Tuesday, this area of northwest Russia was reporting 507 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in their region, up 16 cases from the previous day.

Local authorities also reported that 21 patients had recovered and that there’d been four deaths.

Murmansk Oblast: As of Monday at 10pm local time, this region of northwestern Russia was recording 438 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, up 35 cases from the previous day.

Of the confirmed cases to date, 403 people have been hospitalized and 32 people have recovered. There’s been three deaths.

20/04/2020 – 16h00 EDT

Arkhangelsk Oblast: As of Saturday, this region in northwest Russia was reporting 50 confirmed COVID-19 infections. But health authorities warned that the number could increase after a health care worker in a regional hospital tested positive for the virus.

“An epidemiological investigation is currently being conducted and the hospital has been put in quarantine,” said a statement on the regional government’s website.

Regional authorities now say they’re discussing whether physical and social distancing requirements need to be more strictly enforced and whether a 14-day self-isolation requirement needs to be put in place for locals returning to Arkhangelsk from areas with “an unfavourable epidemiological situation.” 

Komi Republic: As of Friday, this area of northwest Russia was reporting 491confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in their region.

Local authorities also reported that 21 patients had recovered and that there’d been four deaths.

In a news release on Sunday, the regional government said it was discussing new measures in response to the crisis but gave no details.

Nenets Autonomous Okrug: Regional health and government authorities are warning residents not to travel outside this region of northern Russia unless absolutely necessary, saying the number of COVID-19 infections in neighbouring areas and other parts of Russia was a concern.

“The probability of importing coronavirus infection from other regions of Russia: Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Republic of Komi, the Arkhangelsk region, remains very high,” said a statement on the regional government’s website.

 “The epidemiological situation in these and a number of other regions is very complex. If you still need to leave, be careful, be sure to use personal protective equipment and if possible, on your return to the district, self-isolate for 14 days.”

Murmansk Oblast: As of Sunday at 11pm local time, this region of northwestern Russia was recording 403 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection. Of those, 372 people have been hospitalized and 28 people have recovered. There’s been three deaths.  

17/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): This part of northeastern Russia  reported 11 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing total confirmed cases in the region to 45.   Fifteen of the patients have recovered.

Characterizing the epidemiological situation in Yakutia  as “complicated,” regional governor Aysen Nikolayev renewed calls for the population to respect social and physical distancing directives especially with the approach of Russian Orthodox Easter on April 19.

Murmansk Oblast: As of Thursday, this northwestern region of Russia was reporting 318 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection and one death. Two-hundred and ninety-six people are in hospital.

In a news release on Thursday, the regional government said it had carried out 12,000 tests in the region so far.

Komi Republic: As of Friday, this area of northwest Russia was reporting 455 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in their region.

Local authorities also reported that six patients had recovered and that there’d been three deaths.

16/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: The local government here will now require oil and gas workers to be tested for COVID-19 before they come to their postings in this region of northern Russia.

“The oil and gas industry is the most important component of the country’s economy,” said regional Governor Dmitry Artyukhov in a news release on Thursday, saying the next mass shift change of workers was scheduled for May.

“To prevent (the workers) from blowing up the epidemiological situation, I’ve decided that all of them should be tested for coronavirus, before coming to Yamal.”

In a statement on the regional government’s website, it said workers would have to be tested, observe a 14-day self-isolation period and then be re-tested. The workers will be allowed to proceed to their work site if the second test is negative.

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): As of Thursday, this region of northeastern Russia was reporting 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection. Fifteen people have recovered.

In a statement posted on the regional government’s website, local authorities characterized the situation in the republic as “stable.”

15/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Murmansk Oblast: This region of northwestern Russia reported 268 total confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, saying 206 of the infections were in the Kola District.

The Independent Barents Observer, a Norwegian news site, reported that more than 200 of the confirmed infections in the Kola District were at a construction site run by Novatek, a Russian natural gas company.

The regional government says that to date, 14 people have recovered from the coronavirus, 253 people were still in hospital, and that one person had died.

Komi Republic: As of Wednesday, this area of northwest Russia was reporting 402 presumed and confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection.

In a statement on the regional government website, authorities said they would no longer be sending local positive test results to a lab in Novosibirsk in southwestern Siberia for confirmation, and that positive COVID-19 test results found by the Republic of Komi lab would now be considered immediately confirmed.

“This will allow us to get the big picture more quickly,” said Vladimir Uiba, the regional governor, in a news release. “We won’t have to wait three or four days anymore (for the official results to come back from Novosibirisk). We’ll get an immediate picture of how many are infected.” 

The Komi Republic has the third highest numbers of COVID-19 infections in Russia after the Moscow area (17,363) and St-Petersburg (929).

In a statement on the Komi Republic website, the regional government said there’s been three deaths to date and six patients have recovered.

14/04/2020 – 16h00 EDT

Nenets Autonomous Okrug: The regional government in this region of northern Russia said on Tuesday it was reallocating 20 million rubles of its budget to help with COVID-19 mitigation measures.

In a statement on their website, the government said 13.2 million rubles would go towards purchasing medical devices, medicine and personal protective equipment, 3.7 million rubles would go towards salaries and bonuses for medical workers, with the remaining money directed towards medical personnel providing inpatient services to COVID-19 patients.

13/04/2020 – 16h20 EDT

Murmansk Oblast: As of Sunday, the government of this region of northwestern Russia was reporting 128 total cases of confirmed COVID-19 infection.

In a statement on the government website, it said 10 patients had recovered and the remaining 118 were in hospital.

In an age group breakdown of the coronavirus cases, the government said that 71 per cent of confirmed cases were in the 18-45 year old age group, 21 per cent were in the 46 to 65 year old age group, five per cent were children and only  three per cent were in the 66 – to 80 year old age group.

In other news on Sunday, the Norwegian news website The Independent Barents Observer, reported that a mobile hospital had been flown to the Kola peninsula in this region of Russia in response to a coronavirus outbreak at the Belokamenka construction site north of Murmansk. Novatek, the Russian natural gas company that oversees the site, has yet to comment on the COVID-19 situation there or the use of the mobile health facilities.

 

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): Aysen Nikolayev, the governor of this region of northeastern Russia, said on Monday that employers bringing personnel into Yakutia from other places in, or out, of Russia would be required to provide a place for their staff to self-isolate for 14-days.

The directive applies to everyone whether they arrive by air or train, the government said in a news release.

Nikolayev also said further mitigation measures would be announced soon, including area-specific ones for the Arctic regions of Yakutia.

As of Monday, Yakutia was reporting 23 total cases of confirmed COVID-19 infection. Thirteen people have recovered.

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: The government in this area of northern Russia says that as of Monday it had 66 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the region.

Thirty-eight of the patients have required hospitalization.

10/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Komi Republic: As of Friday, this area of northwest Russia was reporting 305 confirmed and presumed cases of COVID-19 infection in their region.

In a statement on their website, the regional government said they would be purchasing an additional 70 ventilators to help respond to the crisis.

As of April 10, there’s been three deaths and one patient has recovered, authorities said in a news release.

Murmansk Oblast: Russia’s northwesternmost region is reporting 23 new coronavirus cases in just the last 24 hours.

This brings total cases in the region to 67, according to the government. Of these, five have recovered, it says.

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: The government in this area of northern Russia says that as of Friday, they have confirmed 50 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their region.

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): This region of northeastern Russia is reporting 19 total confirmed COVID-19 infections in its territory.  Ten people have recovered and nine patients are being treated in hospital.

One of the new infections was in the Aldan District in the southern part of the region. The individual had at one point gone to a local market, despite being in self-isolation, the government said in a news release. Authorities have ordered that the market be completely closed until it’s been disinfected.

Nenets Autonomous Okrug: This region of northern Russia was reporting its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Friday.

It was detected in Naryan-Mar, the administrative centre for region, in someone who had travelled in from St-Petersburg.

09/04/2020 – 15h30 EDT

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: The government in this area of northern Russia says that as of Thursday, they have confirmed 41 total cases of COVID-19 in their region.

Although authorities have not yet completed the epidemiological investigations into each case, preliminary results indicate the majority of the cases are not related to international travel but are the result of travel to the Yamalo-Nenets region from other areas of Russia, the local government said in a news release.

The regional government is asking employers, starting Thursday, to have their employees work remotely for the next 14 days. Although the government previously issued directives to people 65 years old to stay indoors as much as possible, the rule included several exemptions, including people that were still working. However, those exemptions were removed Thursday, with the regional government ordering people 65 and older not to leave their homes until April 30,  except in case of a medical emergency.

Murmansk Oblast: On Thursday, the government in this region of northwestern Russia reported one new case of COVID-19 in their region, bringing total confirmed cases to 44. The government news release gave no details on where the newest case had been identified or if it was the result of travel or community transmission. 

08/04/2020 – 16h EDT

Komi Republic: As of Wednesday, this area of northwest Russia was reporting 245 total confirmed COVID-19 infections in their region. Three patients have died and one has recovered.

Another 3,657 people are being medically supervised, either because they recently returned from international travel (1,007) or because they recently came into contact with previously infected people (2,650), the regional government said in a news release.

Murmansk Oblast: As of Wednesday, this region of northwestern Russia was reporting 43 total confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Also on Wednesday, three people were discharged from hospital, the government said in a news release, bringing the total amount of those fully recovered in the region to five.

Of the five recovered patients, three were adults from the region, one was a minor and one was an Irish citizen.

07/04/2020

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): The regional government in this region of northwestern Russia said in a news release on Tuesday that it is asking its ministries to cancel equipment purchases (other than medical) and to put off repair projects or other major expenditures so it can revise its budget to better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The priorities of the government have changed, and they’re obvious: all force and resources of the Republic should be directed to fighting the coronavirus and its consequences,” said Aysen Nikolayev, Yakutia’s governor, in a news release.

The region is implementing a number of economic relief measures including grants to small businesses to help pay salaries salaries and costs, debt deferral payments and rent reductions.

“We have to support people and business, so budget expenditures will be refocused on providing social and economic support,” he said.

06/04/2020 

Komi Republic: This area of northwest Russia now has 59 cases of COVID-19 infection, the regional government said in a news release on Sunday. There have been two deaths. 

02/04/2020

Chukotka Autonomous Okrug: The government in this Arctic region of Russia’s Far East announced on Thursday that anyone arriving in Chukotka from other parts of the country must self-isolate for 14 days to help slow the spread of COVID-19. All non-essential businesses in Chukotka have previously been ordered to close until April 14 and residents have been asked to stay indoors except to get food, obtain medical care, walk pets, take out the trash or to assist seniors or others vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: The government in this area of northern Russia says they have their first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in their region.

Dmitry Artyukhov, the regional governor, said people need to be prepared for the number of infections to go up and said he was calling on all residents of the region to do their civic duty and respect self-isolation constrictions and not leave their homes.

“Today we have two confirmed people sick, but they had a social circle, so the number is likely to grow,” he said in a news release posted on the government’s website. “We can’t be complacent here, that’s why we have to follow all existing instructions.” 

The government says health authorities have traced all contacts the two men had, and that those people are now in isolation and waiting for their test results.

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): In a government update on Thursday, authorities say four of the region’s 15 confirmed COVID-19 patients have recovered, and 11 are still being treated in hospital.

Also, on Thursday on the national level, Russian President Vladimir Putin extended a country-wide “no work” order until April 30 to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Russia was reporting 3,548 total confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, and 30 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

“The threat persists,” he said in a statement posted on the government’s website. “According to the specialists, the peak of the epidemic in the world still hasn’t passed, and that includes in our country.”

01/04/2020

Arkhangelsk Oblast: Authorities in this region of northwest Russia announced a series of initiatives on Tuesday to help the economic sectors most affected by COVID-19 mitigation measures in their region.

The aviation, fitness, travel, entertainment, leisure and education industries are the hardest hit sectors in the region, authorities say,  along with small, service-oriented businesses like dry cleaners and beauty parlours.

Among the proposals are a six-month insurance premium payment extension for micro businesses and the postponement of most taxes for small- and medium-sized businesses, the regional government said in a news release on their website.

Komi Republic: The regional government in this area of northwest Russia say there are now 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases in their region, the Norwegian news site, The Independent Barents Observer IBO reports.

Local authorities have raised the alarm over the shortage of personal protective gear for health care workers, but the head of the regional emergency preparedness committee says a local clothing factory has been commissioned to make up the shortfall, the IBO reported.

March 2020

31/03/2020

Chukotka Autonomous Okrug: A population census in the remote Indigenous communities of this Arctic region in Russia’s Far East has been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the regional government said in a statement on their website on Monday.  The Russian census is scheduled for October 2020 but the census in most parts of Chukotka was planned to be done from April 1 to May 1 in order to cover all the remote settlements in the region. Also on Monday,  non-essential businesses in Chukotka were ordered to close to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: People over the age of 60 in this area of northern Russia will be obligated to stay in self isolation from April 1 to April 15, and may not leave their homes under any circumstances, the regional government said in a statement on Monday, citing the severity of COVID-19 infections often found in older people. Social workers and volunteers will be dispatched to walk pets, grocery shop or go to the pharmacy for isolating individuals. Health officials will make house calls to any senior requiring medical care during the two-week isolation period.

Murmansk Oblast: As of 2pm local time on March 31, this region of northwestern Russia was reporting six new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region. Two patients had recently returned from the United Arab Emirates. In total, the regional government is reporting 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with another 15 people having received preliminary positive results.

30/03/2020

Murmansk Oblast: The government of Russia’s northernwesternmost region announced on Saturday that the towns of  Kirovsk and Apatity would be quarantined to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

The Norwegian news site the Independent Barents Observer (IBO) also reported that checkpoints had been put up on Monday on roads into the towns of  Monchegorsk and Kovdor, and that access had been limited to the villages of Teriberka and Ura-Guba. Russia also closed its borders with Finland and Norway on Monday in an effort to contain the coronavirus.

As of Monday, Russia was reporting 1,836 COVID-19 infections and 9 deaths.

Arkhangelsk Oblast: Authorities in this region of northwest Russia are warning business owners they could be subject to big fines if they don’t comply with shutdown restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

While businesses like food sellers are essential services are allowed to stay open, Irina Bazhanova, the region’s minister of Agriculture and Trade, called on municipalities to better enforce the shutdown measures for non-essential businesses like flower sellers and beauty salons, not all of whom shut down as required, she said.

Sakha Republic (Yakutia): With 15 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in this region of northeastern Russia, the regional governor announced further restrictions to contain the coronavirus on Monday.

A region-wide shutdown of non-essential businesses has been in effect from March 28, but Aysen Nikolayev said further measures needed to be taken in places like the capital city of Yakutsk, as well as the village of Zhatay, and the Neryungrinsky and Mirninsky  districts in the southern part of Yakutia, where he said complete self-isolation was necessary.

These cities and regions are the gates to the Republic, and either already have cases of the disease, or the highest risk of its penetration,” Nikolayev said in a statement on the regional government’s website.

Unless they are essential workers, people in the four areas are being asked to not leave their homes. If they need to go to the store for food or to walk a pet, authorities are asking that it be done as “strictly” close to their residences as possible and that a 1.5 metre distance from others be maintained.

27/03/2020

Murmansk Oblast: Russia’s northernwesternmost region is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 infection as of Thursday night at 11:30pm local time.

Three of the new cases were caught from recently arrived travellers who had not observed the 14-day self-isolation requirements, said the government in a news release.

The other two cases were travel related: one person had been in Latvia, the other in the United Arab Emirates.

Arkhangelsk Oblast: Authorities in the Arkhangelsk region in northwest Russia are pleading with blood donors not to cancel their appointments because of COVID-19 concerns, the local government said in a news release Thursday night.

Doctors say they’ve seen a surge of cancellations at the same time blood donations are greatly needed to treat everyone from cancer patients to accident victims to women in labor.

Their health and life directly depend on the uninterrupted supply of donated blood,” the statement said.

In an effort to reassure potential donors, doctors say physical distancing is being observed at blood donation stations, there are mandatory temperature checks before entering and masks are being worn.

26/03/2020 

Russia’s Sakha Republic (Yakutia), located in the northeastern part of the country, announced on Thursday that all businesses in the region, except for grocery stores, pharmacies and essential services, will shut down from March 28 to April 5.

I am sure that Yakutians will accept these restrictive measures, since they are being put in place to preserve the life and health of our relatives, friends and the residents of Yakutia,” said regional governor Aysen Nikolayev in a news release.

“The self-isolation regime will allow people to be at home with their families and stop the spread of coronavirus infection in the republic.”

Earlier in the day, Nikolayev reported 14 new COVID-19 infection in the region.

The governor also said some people had been lying to authorities about having travelled abroad making it difficult for health authorities to track infection chains. He labelled the behaviour as “irresponsible” and said legislation is being considered to hold people legally, or even criminally responsible, for lying about being abroad or failing to disclose that they’ve had contact with a person infected with COVID-19.

25/03/2020 

As of 3pm local time, the Murmansk region in Russia’s northwest, has ordered the suspension of activities in all entertainment, leisure and fitness facilities in an effort to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an undated statement on its website, the government ordered that people over 65, and those with health issues or compromised immune systems, stay in self-isolation from March 26 to April 14.

On its VKontakte page, a Russian social media platform, the region announced Tuesday that it was also ordering the closure of ski facilities, hookah bars, and was banning youth gatherings of more than 25 people.

Two new preliminary positive results of COVID-19 infection in the Murmansk region were also reported on Tuesday, authorities said on the VKontakte page.  One person had recently returned from Cuba, the other had recently returned from Amsterdam.

24/03/2020 

Russia’s Sakha Republic (Yakutia) located in the northeast of Russia, is now requiring residents over 65 in the city of Yakutsk and the village of Zhataya to stay in self isolation to protect themselves from COVID-19.

Those that comply with the order will receive a one-time payment of 4,000 roubles.

I made a difficult decision in order to protect the older generation, which is the most susceptible to coronavirus infection, “ said Yakutia’s Governor Aysen Nikolayev in a news conference Tuesday night.

I urge the Yakutians to take care of older people. And volunteers and social services will take all measures to provide them with food and medication.

Nikolayev said the government is currently exploring measures to restrict access to food courts and shopping malls to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

As of Monday night local time, there were seven confirmed COVID-19 cases in Yakutia and five probable cases.

Elsewhere in Arctic Russia, the Government of Murmansk Oblast, in the country’s northwest, asked Monday that businesses organize to have their employees work remotely from home.

It is necessary to minimize the risks of the spread of coronavirus infection,” said Andrey Chibis, the regional governor.

As of Tuesday, Russia was reporting 495 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the country, and 1 death.

23/03/2020

The governor of Russia’s Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Aysen Nikolayev, says he’s not planning an emergency shutdown or quarantine in response to COVID-19, describing the situation in the region as “stable”.

The current situation, of course, requires restrictive measures, but we do not intend to introduce quarantine, which would be introduced at the request of the republic’s chief health officer, or to declare a state of emergency in either the city of Yakutsk or any other municipalities,” said a Russian statement on the government’s website on Monday.

In the coming days, authorities said they will be focusing on tracking people that travelled into the republic from abroad over the last two weeks.

Nikolayev said he would be making government vehicles available to medical authorities to help speed up the monitoring process.

Unfortunately, there are not enough vehicles in medical institutions, so today I decided to make government vehicles available.  I’m sure that this decision will help to keep the situation under control and enable the identification of people who have been in contact with sick citizens more quickly.

According to the government, there are currently 7 people infected with the COVID-19 in the region.

For more news on the COVID-19 response in Russia, visit The Independent Barents Observer

19/03/2020

Russian authorities reported two additional cases of COVID-19 infections on the opposite sides of the country’s vast Arctic region on Thursday, as Russia registered 52 new cases of novel coronavirus infections in 23 regions for a total of 199 cases countrywide.

The two new cases were registered in Murmansk in the Western Russian Arctic and in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in Northeastern Siberia.

Authorities in Murmansk Oblast confirmed on Thursday the first case of COVID-19 infection in the region and ordered preventive measures to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The patient, a foreign citizen, who had arrived in Murmansk to take part in a chess tournament, is feeling well and has been placed in isolation, the coronavirus operational headquarters of the Murmansk region announced on its VKontakte page.

However, to limit the spread of the virus Murmansk Governor Andrey Chibis ordered all universities and colleges to relax compulsory attendance policies and adopt distance learning measures. Educational and sports institutions that offer extracurricular activities are also mandated to begin thinking about other ways of providing their services. All swimming pools in the region are ordered to close.

In addition, all those who arrive in Murmansk from any foreign destination are ordered to isolate themselves for 14 days.

These measures come into effect on March 20.

Authorities in Yakutia announced Thursday that they have one confirmed and six probable cases of COVID-19 cases in the region. All six cases are related to the confirmed patient, said Margarita Ignatiyeva, the head of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) in Yakutia.

Aysen Nikolayev, the head of the regional government, called on the residents to stay home as much as possible and avoid going to shopping malls. Nikolayev also called on the mayor of Yakutsk to consider measures to limit the work of various entertainment and leisure companies.

No bans on restaurants are planned for now, Nikolayev said in a statement.

17/03/2020 

Russia reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 infections Wednesday, including one case in the country’s northern Arkhangelsk Oblast. 

The latest numbers bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in Russia to 114, according to the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor).

Five people have already recovered and have been released from quarantine.

The Russian government announced a series of measures on Wednesday designed to cushion the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the country’s economy and to combat volatility in the global financial and commodity markets.

The Government and the Central Bank will take all necessary measures to ensure economic stability and financial stability,” officials said in a statement.

The government and the Bank of Russia are introducing a 300-billion ruble ($4 billion US) package of support measures to minimize the consequences of the outbreak for the population and the economy, the statement said.

These measures are designed to ensure the country’s financial stability, as well as the financial stability of sectors hard hit by the crisis, and to directly support the population and local governments, the statement said.

The full economic effect of current events cannot be predicted at the moment, so the package of measures implemented will be expanded if necessary,” the statement said.

16/03/2020

Russia is shutting its borders to foreigners starting on Wednesday in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect citizens, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced Monday.

The measure would be in place until May 1, he said.

Russian authorities reported the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Komi Republic, in the Russian Arctic on Monday.

According to the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) the case was registered in the regional capital Syktyvkar.

The patient, a resident of Syktyvkar, had recently returned from a trip to Iran, regional authorities said in a statement.

The man has been hospitalized at the Republican Infectious Diseases Hospital and is undergoing treatment, but is feeling well, the statement said.

Rospotrebnadzor’s regional department in Komi Republic reported that 101 individuals are under observation by regional authorities.

The Russian Ministry of Health reported 93 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country as of Monday. The ministry said officials had carried out 109,939 tests. Four people have fully recovered from the flu-like virus, officials said.

13/03/2020 

The regional government in Murmansk announced a series of new measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus to Russia’s northwestern region, which so far has no confirmed cases of COVID-19.

According to Murmanksi Vestnik newspaper, Murmansk Governor Andrey Chibis announced that as of March 14 the region will ban all public gatherings and activities that include foreigners who have been in Russia for less than 14 days.

The regional government has also cancelled all organized foreign trips of delegations of both children and adults.

Regional authorities are also urging residents to refrain from travel abroad, especially, to neighbouring Norway and Finland.

All those who return from foreign trips must isolate themselves for 14 days.

Authorities have also adjourned the “Arctic Fishery” international conference that was supposed to begin on March 24 in Murmansk, according to the governor.

12/03/2020
As of March 13 Russian authorities will severely limit air travel with Italy, Germany, Spain and France. An exception will be made for Aeroflot flights to and from seven destinations in those countries, as well as charter flights to repatriate Russian citizens in the European Union.

Russia will also temporarily stop issuing tourist visas to Italian citizens with the exception of humanitarian, diplomatic and business visas.

Russian authorities are also calling on organizers of sports, entertainment and business events to limit large gatherings.

Russian authorities have also limited air travel with Iran and South Korea, and have stopped passenger rail traffic with China.

For more news on the COVID-19 response in Russia, visit The Independent Barents Observer.

Real-time updates of the COVID-19 outbreak

Follow real-time updates of the COVID-19 outbreak around the world with this interactive map created by John Hopkins University.

You can also find a mobile version here.

 

10 Comments

  1. They should’ve contained it in the first place when it started spreading in late November and December 2019! They knew it was a flu and could spread like wild fire but decided to let almost everyone in the world get infected first! If they did we wouldn’t be in this message!

  2. Great coverage! Thanks!
    As a Swede I have to point out that it is (so far) mostly the Stockholm area that has been affected – and mostly homes for the elderly. Sweden is – at least by European standards, a country that has a low population per square-kilometers and is also stretched out over 2000km, North-South. I live ca 200 km south of the Artic circle and we also have cases. But nothing compared to Stockholm, who got it via their winter-break (week 6-11 south to the north)… Austria, Italy and Spain – skiing or sun-seeking people.

  3. They should’ve contained it in the first place when it started spreading in late November and December 2019! They knew it was a flu and could spread like wild fire but decided to let almost everyone in the world get infected first!

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