Tag Archives: The Governor of Svalbard

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR THURSDAY: Quarantine for locals arriving from mainland extended until April 10, “digital’ community meeting tonight and more

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This story will be updated throughout the day. Photo of social-distancing sun-worshiping snowmobilers by Ann Khanittha Chuphu.

A 14-day quarantine for Longyearbyen residents arriving from the mainland, even if they were in quarantine there, will be extended until at least April 10, Svalbard Gov. Kjerstin Askholt announced Thursday.

“The decision is, as before, based on assessments from, among others, the infection control doctor at Longyearbyen Hospital and the emergency response council for Svalbard,” she said in a prepared statement.

While Svalbard remains the only region in the High North free of officially diagnosed cases of COVID-19 as of midday Thursday, the quarantine of residents and a complete ban on visitors are among measures exceeding those on the mainland due to concerns about the archipelago’s isolation and lack of adequate facilities to treat patients.

AUTOPSY – BEAR DIED OF ANESTHESIA-RELATED CAUSES: Officials cite ‘unfortunate,’ but not unexpected reasons polar bear stunned near Longyearbyen died on helicopter flight north

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A two-year-old polar bear sedated and flown by helicopter away from Longyearbyen in late January because of repeated visits in/near town died during the flight of “circulatory failure/shock due to the combination of prolonged chasing, stress and drug anesthesia,” the Norwegian Polar Institute declared in a statement Thursday following an autopsy.

BREAKING – TRAVELLERS FROM NON-NORDIC COUNTRIES BANNED, PLAN TO SEND THOSE HERE HOME: Justice ministry OKs tougher Svalbard policy; affects first passengers Friday

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All people arriving in Norway from non-Nordic countries are prohibited to travel to Svalbard while strict coronavirus restrictions are in effect, Svalbardposten reported Friday. The restriction, following a meeting by The Governor of Svalbard with Norway’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security, was prompted by concerns Svalbard doesn’t have the capability of hosting such tourists for a mandatory 14-day period. Plans are also now being made to send such visitors who’ve arrived since Feb. 27 (when the quarantine retroactively applies to) back home.

A text message sent by Longyearbyen’s emergency preparedness advisor Friday afternoon states the ban applies to everyone – tourists and permanent residents – although there was immense confusion early on about specifics of the policy. Comments posted on social media shortly after the ban was announced stated locals trying to return from trips to Oslo were being denied if they didn’t hold Norwegian passports.

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.

TWO KILLED IN AVALANCHE: Germans w/ Russian snowmobile tour group caught in snowslide on glacier about 20 km south of Barentsburg on Thursday afternoon

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Two Germans on a snowmobile trip were killed Thursday afternoon by an avalanche that hit a glacier at Fridtjofbreen, about 20 kilometers south of Barentsburg, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

POLAR BEAR DRUGGED, BUT DIES ON FLIGHT NORTH: Officials stun bear near Longyearbyen, investigating why it died on helicopter to northeast Svalbard

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A polar bear spotted near Longyearbyen on Thursday evening was tranquillized after being chased away from town with the intent of flying it by helicopter to northeast Svalbard, but the animal died during the trip for reasons now under investigation, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

“We don’t know why it died,” said Morten Wedege, the governor’s chief environmental advisor, in a prepared statement. “The bear will now be autopsied to find the cause.”

GOVERNOR: IF YOU CARE, BEWARE OF BEAR: Killing animal that has encountered tour groups in Bolterdalen in recent days is last resort, but public needs to avoid provocative actions

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Growls of frustration are already being heard as officials are trying to cope with another bear lingering near Longyearbyen in recent days, including two encounters with guided tour groups. But while The Governor of Svalbard says it is doing everything to avoid a repeat of the controversial killing of a bear on New Year’s Day, it’s crucial the public do everything possible to prevent potentially harmful situations.

ALERT – ANOTHER POLAR BEAR NEAR TOWN: Governor sends helicopter to monitor bear seen Wednesday afternoon in Bolterdalen, tracks also seen on Longyearbreen on Tuesday

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Update 6:30 p.m.: The governor is chasing the bear south through Bolterdalen and plans to continue chasing it to Tverrdalen.

Update 5:50 p.m.: Green Dog Svalbard also reported an encounter with a polar bear at their kennels about 10 kilometers east of Longyearbyen, the governor’s office told Svalbardposten.

Original story: A polar bear was spotted Wednesday afternoon in Bolterdalen, a valley southeast of Longyearbyen, prompting a warning from officials after bear tracks were also observed Tuesday on Longyearbreen south of town.

GUEST COLUMN: Polar bear murder on the New Year’s night due to ‘lack of resources’ inexcusable

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By Nikita Ovsyanikov.
Photo by Marie Lørup Stenshøj

A New Year celebration in Longyearbyen turned out to be no good for an unfortunate polar bear – a seven-year-old healthy male, whose only “sin” was his curiosity and interest in food containers in the town.

BEAR KILLED FLOWN FAR FROM LONGYEARBYEN IN 2016: Seven-year-old male brought to northeast corner of Svalbard after high-profile visit; its long-distance return was fatal

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A polar bear killed near Longyearbyen early on New Year’s Day also approached town in April of 2016, with officials opting then to tranquillize and fly it by helicopter to the northeast corner of Svalbard, adding an extra element to the current debate about whether a similar approach should have occurred this time.