COVID-19 pandemic in Svalbard

COVID-19 pandemic in Svalbard
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China
Index caseLongyearbyen
Confirmed cases100
Active cases100
Government website

The COVID-19 pandemic in Svalbard is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was confirmed to have reached Svalbard on 6 October 2021.[1]

As a territory of Norway, Svalbard follows mainland Norway's COVID-19 restrictions.[2] In March 2021, Svalbard's governor mandated face masks everywhere, including outdoors.[3] Violations of the mandate can lead to fines and six months imprisonment.[3]


On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.[4][5]

The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003,[6][7] but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll.[6][8]


On 6 October 2021, a Russian fisherman transported from Bjørnøya to Longyearbyen hospital tested positive for COVID-19.[1]

On 11 November 2021, an unspecified number of positive cases were announced among visitors and residents of Longyearbyen.[9]

As of 11 January 2022, a total of 23 positive tests have been confirmed, of which 13 were detected in the first week of the year while the remaining 10 were from 2021.[10]


On tourism

According to the Toronto Star, "Tourism numbers are around half of what they used to be."[3]

On science

According to The Independent, as of March 2020, the pandemic does not pose a risk to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault "as there are no permanent staff at the Svalbard facility."[11]

In response to the pandemic, the Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System (SIOS) and the University of Silesia in Katowice and Centre for Polar Studies "initiated several operational activities suitable to mitigate the new challenges resulting from the pandemic."[12][13]


  1. ^ a b "Syk fisker har Covid-19". Sysselmesteren på Svalbard (in Norwegian Bokmål). Archived from the original on 17 October 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  2. ^ Morris, James (22 December 2020). "'We live in a bubble': What life has been like on the European island with zero COVID cases". Yahoo! News UK. Archived from the original on 28 January 2021. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Jesionka, Natalie (13 March 2021). "No COVID-19 cases, ever — and that's just one thing residents of the world's northernmost town like about it". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 13 March 2021. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  4. ^ Elsevier. "Novel Coronavirus Information Center". Elsevier Connect. Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  5. ^ Reynolds, Matt (4 March 2020). "What is coronavirus and how close is it to becoming a pandemic?". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Archived from the original on 5 March 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Crunching the numbers for coronavirus". Imperial News. Archived from the original on 19 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  7. ^ "High consequence infectious diseases (HCID); Guidance and information about high consequence infectious diseases and their management in England". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 3 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  8. ^ "World Federation Of Societies of Anaesthesiologists – Coronavirus". Archived from the original on 12 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Measures against Covid 19 in Longyearbyen". Governor of Svalbard. Archived from the original on 15 December 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Status Covid 19 on Svalbard week 1". Governor of Svalbard. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  11. ^ Boyl, Louise (27 March 2020). "The 'Doomsday' seed vault protecting the world's crops amid catastrophes like coronavirus". The Independent. Archived from the original on 3 March 2021. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  12. ^ "The COVID-19 pandemic affects scientific research in Svalbard". University of Silesia. 16 June 2021. Archived from the original on 18 September 2021. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  13. ^ Jawak, Shridhar D.; Andersen, Bo N.; Pohjola, Veijo A.; Godøy, Øystein; Hübner, Christiane; Jennings, Inger; Ignatiuk, Dariusz; Holmén, Kim; Sivertsen, Agnar; Hann, Richard; Tømmervik, Hans (January 2021). "SIOS's Earth Observation (EO), Remote Sensing (RS), and Operational Activities in Response to COVID-19". Remote Sensing. 13 (4): 712. Bibcode:2021RemS...13..712J. doi:10.3390/rs13040712.

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