13 COVID CASES IN SVALBARD FIRST WEEK OF 2022: Four infected with Omicron, officials said they’ve lost control of ability to track cases, increases expected to continue


Photo by Longyearbyen Lokalstyre

A total of 13 COVID-19 cases were detected among residents and visitors in Svalbard during the first week of 2022, including four of the Omicron variant, with local officials saying they expected cases to continue to rise and they’ve lost control of the ability track the path of local cases.

Cases during the first week exceeded the 10 for all of 2021 among Svalbard residents (but excluding visitors) beginning with the first positive diagnosis on Oct. 6, The Governor of Svalbard announced Tuesday. While nearly all residents wanting vaccinations have been fully immunized, Svalbard’s remoteness and lack of medical facilities to handle a large outbreak has been a foremost concern of local and national officials since the pandemic was declared nearly two years ago.

Now officials are relying on residents to self-report positive test results to help keep track of the virus as the number of cases continue to expand rapidly on the mainland and elsewhere. That means the number of Svalbard cases is also expected to rise, including among those who have not traveled out of the archipelago.

“There is no capacity to conduct extended infection tracking on Svalbard now,” a statement by the governor declares. “Those with a positive test should themselves provide information of their close contacts. Updated close contact and quarantine information can be found at the website of the National Institute of Public Health.”

“People with a positive self-test should contact Longyearbyen Hospital by telephone at 7902 4200. They will receive information about isolation and individual infection control guidance from the hospital.”