Greenland Becomes Only Country Affected by Coronavirus to Now Have No Active Cases After 11 People Recover

Outskirts of Nuuk Greenland june 2007
View of the Nuuk fiords in June 2006 Greenland Jesper Albrechtsen/Getty

Greenland is the first and only country in the world affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic to now have no active cases after the only 11 people to contract the virus recovered.

The National Medical Office in Greenland reported that 11 people tested positive out 844 tests conducted in the country of approximately 57,000 people. There are still 51 tests awaiting a result as of Thursday.

The 11 cases were found in the Nuuk, the country's capital, according to a report by the EUobserver. Nuuk is the most populous city in the country with over 18,000 residents.

The report stated that the capital city is closed off and those who wish to travel in or out require special permission. Greenland closed all of its borders in order to keep the novel coronavirus contained. The country took drastic measures in the hopes of preventing history from repeating itself within its borders.

"A grim history of deadly epidemics brought to Greenland in the 18th and 19th century by European colonizers has fueled fears that the coronavirus, if not checked, will fast reach the many small outlying villages, thereby creating urgent and impossible demands for emergency air transport and intensive care in Greenland's small hospitals," according to the report.

Apollo Mathiassen, a fisherman in the fishing village of Saattut--which is home to 250 people and located in the northwestern part of Greenland--told the EUobserver that his village is cut off from the nearest town.

"On Friday it will be two weeks that we have been careful and still nobody here shows any signs of illness. If nobody is infected, I think it will be sensible to allow a more relaxed way of being together here in Saattut, but I don't know what the plan is. Perhaps they will relax the rules after Easter," Mathiassen said.

Ove Rosing Olsen, a retired doctor and former minister of health in Greenland, also told the EUobserver that the draconian lockdown could last for a year as the country does not have the resources to deal with a large sick population.

"Our capacity to deal with respiratory insufficiency is limited. If the system is overrun by too many patients with severe symptoms, many who could have been saved with the right treatment, will die. Instead of allowing the virus to spread, it is all about keeping it at bay until a vaccine is available. I believe we will have to have very little contact with others for a longer time, perhaps for another 12 months," Rosing Olsen said.

Dr. Gert Mulvad, who works at Queen Ingrid's Hospital, the only large medical facility in Greenland, said that he has no idea how many people would need medical attention if lockdown measures are lifted without a vaccine readily available.

"Our strategy, as in other countries, is to make sure the health care system is not overwhelmed. The difference is that we have more options for isolating the country," Mulvad said, adding that "if we handle this correctly, we will have handled yet another epidemic, and it will not be the end of the world."