Greenland confirms first case of coronavirus

In a file photo taken on June 15, 2018, snow-covered mountains rise above the harbour and town of Tasiilaq, in Greenland. PHOTO: REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Greenland announced its first case of the novel coronavirus on Monday (March 16), as the autonomous Danish Arctic territory brought in restrictions to protect residents from the pandemic.

"The first case of the new coronavirus has now been confirmed in Greenland," according to a local government statement, citing the island's health service.

The infected patient lives in the capital Nuuk, and has been placed in home isolation, the government added.

"Preparations have been initiated to cope with the new situation. It is important that citizens follow our recommendations now that the infection has reached our country," Greenland's Prime Minister Kim Kielsen told a press conference, according to newspaper Sermitsiaq.

The Arctic island has already issued a number of recommendations to limit the spread of the disease.

All non-essential flights to and from Greenland, as well as domestic flights, are strongly advised against.

Public gatherings of more than 100 people are discouraged and citizens returning from high-risk areas are recommended to self-isolate for two weeks.

And when Denmark closed its borders to tourists over the weekend, so did Greenland.

Denmark colonised the two-million sq km island in the 18th century. It is home to around 57,000 people, most of them from the indigenous Inuit community.

Since 2009, Greenland has been largely independent when it comes to its economic policy but foreign and defence issues remain under Copenhagen's control.

Denmark itself on Monday reported a total of 909 confirmed cases, with 11 in the country other autonomous territory the Faroe Islands. One Covid-19-related death has been reported.

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