Coronavirus Observatory: Tracking the Pandemic in the Arctic and the Antarctic

By Polar Research and Policy Initiative
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg discusses the COVID-19 pandemic at the Norwegian Government’s press conference for children, 16 March 2020. Photo: Eirin Larsen, SMK (Statsministerens kontor/Flickr).

Project Lead: Dr Dwayne Ryan Menezes and Max Daniels

Project Team: Mikhail Radkevitch, Helena Roberts, Shaan Afzal-Khan, Haroon Faqir, Joe Godbold


First published: 20 March 2020
Last updated: 19 January 2022

This observatory tracks the spread of, and responses to, the Covid-19 pandemic across the Arctic and the Antarctic. The team at Polar Research and Policy Initiative will be monitoring the situation regularly and updating the report on a weekly basis, so stay tuned for the latest figures and measures. The states covered include the US (Alaska), Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut), Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. 

Image: Ocean conferences and Arctic fisheries alike have been disrupted by COVID-19. It risks long-term damage to both. Source: U.S. Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs.[i]

Arctic States: Confirmed Cases of COVID-19

Each of the eight Arctic Council members now has recorded cases of COVID-19. Here are the latest figures:

Alaska (US):

  • 162,626 confirmed cases (2,547 in Nome Census Area, 18,190 in Fairbanks North Star Borough, 1,354 in Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, 918 in Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, 25,561 in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, 12,167 in Kenai Peninsula Borough, 3,008 in Kodiak Island Borough, 68,840 in Anchorage Municipality, 4,911 in Juneau City and Borough, 525 in Petersburg Borough, 729 in Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, 1,453 in Sitka City and Borough, 2,334 in Ketchikan Gateway Borough, 7,068 in Bethel Census Area). 948 deaths. 80 currently hospitalised. (Source: DHSS)
  • Vaccinations (5+): 68.2% first dose. 60.9% second dose. 23% third dose. (Source: DHSS 

Canada:

  • 2,822,614 confirmed cases and 31,827 deaths. There have been 2,747 confirmed cases in Yukon (15 deaths), 4,234 in the Northwest Territories (13 deaths) and 1,222 in Nunavut (5 deaths) (Source: Government of Canada
    • There have also been 1,882 confirmed cases in Nunavik in Quebec (6 deaths) (Source: Quebec Covid-19) and 1,460 confirmed cases in the Labrador-Grenfell Health Region, which includes Nunatsiavut (no deaths) (Source: NL Covid-19)
  • Vaccinations (5+): Canada – 88.33% fully vaccinated (Yukon – 84.58%, Northwest Territories – 87.05%, Nunavut – 71.32%, Nunavik in Quebec – 62.12%, Newfoundland and Labrador (no regional data available) – 89.90%) (Source: Canada Covid Tracker

Kingdom of Denmark: 

  • Denmark: 1,232,238 confirmed cases, 3535 deaths, 821 currently hospitalised. (Source: DHA). 
  • Vaccinations: 82.4% first dose, 80.3% second dose, 58.1% third dose. (Source: DHA). 
  • Greenland: 9014 confirmed cases (1701 in Avannaata, 422 in Qeqertalik, 752  in Qeqqata, 5726 in Sermersooq, 413 in Kujalleq), 2 deaths, 10 currently hospitalised. (Source: CMO). 
  • Vaccinations: 72% first dose, 68% second dose. (Source: CMO). 
  • Faroe Islands: 11,313 confirmed cases, 15 deaths, 7 currently hospitalised. (Source: corona.fo).  
  • Vaccinations (12+): 92.7% first dose, 91% second dose, 47% third dose. (Source: corona.fo).  

Finland:

  • 371,135 confirmed cases (4,623 in Lapland, 21,288 in North Ostrobothnia, 2,301 in Kainuu, 2,427 in Central Ostrobothnia, 5,835 in South Ostrobothnia, 8,701 in the Vaasa region, 10,655 in Central Finland, 7,617 in Northern Savonia, 4,346 in North Karelia, 196,076 in Helsinki and Uusimaa, 15,900 in the Tampere region), 1,724 deaths. 9,042,453 tested. (Source: THL)
  • Vaccinations (12+): 86.4% first dose. 82.9% second dose. 42.4% third dose. (Source: THL)

Iceland:

  • 53,121 confirmed cases and 44 deaths (Source: https://www.covid.is/data)
  • Vaccinations: Iceland – 77% fully vaccinated (East Iceland – 77.77%, Greater Reykjavik – 74.47%, North Iceland – 79.75%, South Iceland – 75.68%, Suðurnes Peninsula – 69.17%, West Fjords – 75.70%, West Iceland – 77.13% (Source: covid.is vaccinations

Norway:

  • 538,784 confirmed cases (164,504 positive cases in Viken, 129,992 in Oslo, 43,306 in Vestland, 35,994 in Rogaland, 34,654 in Vestfold and Telemark, 32,036 in Trøndelag, 26,371 in Agder, 22,533 in Innlandet, 15,790 in Troms and Finnmark, 12,131 in Møre and Romsdal, 10,552 in Nordland), 1,412 deaths. 9,774,229 tested. 7,587 hospitalised and 1,530 admitted to ICU. (Source: FHI).
  • Vaccinations (18+): 92.9% first dose. 90% second dose. (Source: FHI).

Sweden:

  • 1,700,336 confirmed cases (428,016 in Stockholm, 287,344 in Västra Götaland, 243,203 in Skåne, 67,537 in Halland, 61,523 in Uppsala, 60,738 in Jönköping, 59,578 in Östergötland, 51,913 in Örebro, 49,530 in Gävleborg, 47,902 in Västmanland, 42,563 in Dalarna, 41,668 in Sörmland, 36,486 in Västernorrland, 35,719 in Kalmar, 35,433 in Värmland, 35,360 in Västerbotten, 35,250 in Norrbotten, 31,966 in Kronoberg, 22,995 in Jämtland, 18,687 in Blekinge, 6,925 in Gotland), 15,688 deaths. (Source: C19.SE).
  • Vaccinations: 7,806,103. (Source: C19.SE).

Russia:

  • 10,716,397 confirmed cases (2,113,370 in Moscow, 672,359 in Moscow Oblast, 893,098 in Saint Petersburg, 85,541 in Kaliningrad Oblast, 73,154 in Pskov Oblast, 106,543 in Leningrad Oblast, 67,470 in Novgorod Oblast, 102,685 in Tver Oblast, 87,262 in Smolensk Oblast, 89,391 in Yaroslavl Oblast, 99,576 in Bryansk Oblast, 67,567 in Kaluga Oblast, 84,785 in Vladimir Oblast, 70,276 in Ivanovo Oblast, 49,484 in Kostroma Oblast, 102,017 in Vologda Oblast, 93,947 in Murmansk Oblast, 92,800 in Republic of Karelia, 126,885 in Arkhangelsk Oblast, 3,575 in Nenets Autonomous Okrug, 99,395 in Komi Republic, 238,257 in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, 82,409 in Kirov Oblast, 167,117 in Perm Krai, 207,376 in Sverdlovsk Oblast, 94,479 in Tyumen Oblast, 63,242 in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, 99,039 in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, 178,684 in Krasnoyarsk Krai, 162,609 in Irkutsk Oblast, 79,266 in Yakutiya, 13,923 in Magadan Oblast, 2,996 in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, 24,380 in Kamchatka Krai), 316,852 deaths. (Source: JHU).
  • Vaccinations: 51.5% first dose, 47.3% second dose. (Source: OWID).  

Arctic States: Measures to Address COVID-19 Pandemic

For further information, click on buttons below:

Alaska

Canada

Kingdom of Denmark

Iceland

Norway

Sweden

Latest news about Sweden’s Coronavirus Measures 

Finland

Russia

Antarctica

Image: Scandic Congress Center Marina, Helsinki. The venue to the cancelled ATCM 34. Source: Scandic Hotels.[xiv]

Avoiding Fragmentation

The spread of the virus, and its effects on national and regional economies, livelihoods, supply chains, infrastructure and mobility, has illustrated the intensely connected nature of the world economy. The Arctic and Antarctic are not immune. These translate as specific and uneven impacts at the local level, which highlight more fundamental and underlying vulnerabilities in certain areas. Infrastructure in the Far North is one such area of concern. This is why a concerted, international effort to combat the virus is so important, and the exploitation of this crisis by petty nationalism worrying. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry added fuel to the fires of conspiracy by tweeting that it may have been the US Army that brought the virus to Wuhan.[xix] The Trump Administration sought to blame its usual foes and even friends – China, with labels of the ‘Wuhan virus’ and ‘Chinese virus’, and also Europe, whereupon a travel ban was announced without notice, which at first did not include the UK and Ireland (supposedly for having secure borders).[xx] Italy’s nationalists were quick to pin the blame on familiar targets – the EU, and migrants arriving from Africa.

Governments must collaborate on best practice and work in coordination; and they should not fall prey to easy protectionism, isolationism (in the international sense) and a hasty blame game. Having a cause and excelling in a spirit of solidarity could prove an important reminder of how states can come together for the other great challenges that we face – climate change, rights and responsibilities in the Far North and biodiversity in the Far South, among many others. The Polar Regions show the necessity for such a response.

All information correct at the time of writing. The report will be updated by the team on a weekly basis.


[i] www.state.gov/key-topics-office-of-ocean-and-polar-affairs/
[ii] www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/news-story/9878972-inuit-concerned-about-potential-spread-of-coronavirus-in-north/
[iii] pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/03/06/inuit-crown-partnership-committee-continues-progress-shared
[iv] tromso.kommune.no/alt-om-korona-i-tromsoe-corona-advice-and-info.6258629-110070
[v] https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/life-and-public/2020/03/tromso-and-northern-municipalities-impose-quarantine-restriction-travelers
[vi] https://www.sysselmannen.no/en/news/2020/03/karantene-etter-reiser-utenfor-norden/
[vii] thebarentsobserver.com/en/security/2020/03/norway-cancels-cold-response-due-coronavirus-outbreak
[viii] https://www.ship-technology.com/news/covid-19-hurtigruten-cruise-operations/
[ix] www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/03/12/coronavirus-in-russia-the-latest-news-march-12-a69117)
[x] twitter.com/BAS_News/status/1238139538905665537
[xi] antarctica.gov.au/…/international-antarctic-conferences-cancelled-due-to-coronavirus
[xii] www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/climate/coronavirus-arctic-mosaic-mission.html
[xiii] www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=299944&org=OPP
[xiv] www.scandichotels.com/hotels/finland/helsinki/scandic-grand-marina
[xv] https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/global-economic-prospects#outlook
[xvi] news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1059011
[xvii] www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russias-arctic-winter-is-now-missing-its-biggest-fans-chinese-tourists/2020/02/20/a75b97b0-53de-11ea-80ce-37a8d4266c09_story.html
[xviii] www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/03/05/coronavirus-hits-russian-tourism-for-400m-loss-a69537
[xix] www.ft.com/content/d420ce18-641f-11ea-b3f3-fe4680ea68b5
[xx] www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/14/before-trump-white-house-blamed-china-coronavirus-it-vouched-it/

Max Daniels serves as a Fellow at Polar Research and Policy Initiative. Max graduated with a BA in Human Geography from Durham University. His interests lay in a diverse range of subjects, including political and urban geographies with a cross-disciplinary focus on Arctic governance, while his dissertation analysed the regulatory framework of Antarctic tourism. Following experience in the travel industry, he completed his MA in Geopolitics, Territory and Security at King’s College London. He has pursued his studies in international spaces and the poles, with projects focusing on the legal aspects of territorial and border disputes in the Arctic, the Antarctic’s environmental geopolitics, and the geopolitics of outer space. He has most recently worked as a staffer for a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons.
Dr Dwayne Ryan Menezes is the Founder and Managing Director of Polar Research and Policy Initiative (PRPI). He is also the Founder and Managing Director of Human Security Centre and Commonwealth Policy Development Centre. Over his academic career, Menezes read Imperial and Commonwealth History at the LSE and the University of Cambridge, graduating from the latter with a PhD in History. Subsequently, he held visiting or postdoctoral fellowships at research centres at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and London. At present, he is an Honorary Fellow at the UCL Institute of Risk and Disaster Reduction at University College London and an Associate Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Over his policy career, Menezes has served as Head of the Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Yemen in the UK Parliament (2015–present); Consultant to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth (2014–2016); Principal Consultant to the European Parliament Intergroup on the Freedom of Religion or Belief (2015–2016) and Research Associate to a UN Special Rapporteur (2013–2014). He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Society of Arts.
Helena Roberts is a Global Leadership Fellow at Polar Research and Policy Initiative. She is an Economics and Politics graduate from the University of Leeds, and completed an Erasmus study abroad year at IE University in Madrid.
Shaan Afzal-Khan is a Global Leadership Fellow at Polar Research and Policy Initiative. He recently graduated from the University of Glasgow following the completion of a degree in politics. His dissertation on Voter Suppression in the United States demonstrates his deep interest in international affairs. He joins the Polar Research and Policy Initiative in the hope of gaining insight into how individuals and organisations can make the world a better place.
Joe Godbold is a Global Leadership Fellow at Polar Research and Policy Initiative. He is a Politics (BA) and Environmental Change and International Development (MSc) graduate from the University of Sheffield.

 

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