LOCAL CORONAVIRUS ADVISORY ISSUED: ‘Call first – don’t show up at the hospital,’ other guidelines as local officials match preparatory measures on mainland

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Practice reasonable (not panicked) hygiene behavior and if you’re worried you might have the coronavirus call (don’t immediately visit) the hospital, local officials urged in alerts Monday that replicate similar cautionary efforts being made in mainland Norway following the country’s first diagnosed case in Tromsø last week.

Svalbard’s spring tourism season is in full swing which means, travel restrictions notwithstanding, visitors from all regions of the world will be arriving during the coming months for stays that may last a few days or a few weeks. While the local advisories stated no specific precautions specific to Svalbard are being taken, full responsive measures are in place.

“The authorities are at full readiness in case of infected persons coming to Svalbard,” an advisory issued by The Governor of Svalbard notes. “Concrete plans have been made locally in line with the recommendation of the Institute of Public Health (FHI). We are working closely with the FHI and the Directorate of Health, who are primarily responsible for any infection or suspected infection. The local emergency preparedness council is informed of the plans.”

The virus, which has spread to 88 countries and killed more than 3,000 people as of midday Monday, spreads similar to the common cold via bodily fluids from coughing or sneezing, the advisory notes.

“Reasonable hygiene to limit infection is therefore important. This includes the use of disposable handkerchiefs and thorough hand washing. If this is not available, it is recommended to cough in the elbow instead of in the hands and if possible. use alcohol-based hand disinfection.”

People who suspect they are infected should call Longyearbyen Hospital at 7902 4200.

“Possibly infected persons should not sit in waiting rooms due to the risk of infecting others and a diagnosis must therefore be arranged with health professionals first,” the advisory notes.

 

Svalbard experienced a brief coronavirus “scare” on Thursday – a day after Norway’s first case was announced – when travel to/from Svea was suspended for about an hour or two due to a person there fearing they had the virus. While the incident was a false alarm, multiple people called the hospital during the day wondering they should be diagnosed.