“The alarm bells are ringing. Not just in Longyearbyen. They call in the Norwegian Institute of Public Health top management. And the Minister of Health. And the Foreign Minister. And the Prime Minister. That Norway’s first case of COVID-19 has occurred in little Svalbard, with its four doctors, is almost catastrophic.”
That top-level panic in January of 2020, several weeks before a global pandemic was declared, remained unknown to the public until this week when a newly published book revealed a prominent scientist in Longyearbyen tested positive for the virus after returning from a trip to China.
While their fears were averted when a follow-up test was negative – resulting on what an official called “the best exercise we have had” in preparation for outbreaks – it means the claim Svalbard is one of the few places on Earth with no COVID-19 cases is, while not a lie, a distortion of the truth.