Infection prevention advice

  1. Stay at home if you are sick.
  2. Wash your hands often and use hand sanitiser.
  3. Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  4. Limit physical contact – avoid the shaking of hands, kissing on the cheek, embracing, etc.
  5. Pay attention to cleaning and airing out – both at home and at the workplace.
  6. Keep others at a distance and ask other people to show the same care and consideration.

The best you can do to prevent the spread of infection is to follow the six pieces of advice for the prevention of the spread of infection from the National Board of Health in Greenland. We recommend that you integrate these six pieces of advice into your conduct – at home, in public areas, at school and at work. Also remember to help children to follow the recommendations.

The six pieces of advice are given in more detail below.

  1. Stay at home and isolate if you have COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive or is not vaccinated and is a close contact to someone who is infected with the coronavirus.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are infected with the coronavirus you should isolate.

To isolate means:

  • You must stay at home and not meet with other people who you do not live with.
  • You must avoid contact with the people you live with.
  • You must pay special attention to good hygiene and cleaning.

If you have tested positive for the coronavirus or are a close contact of an infected person and it is not possible to keep to a sufficient distance from others in your household, the municipality may possibly provide you with voluntary isolation accommodation outside the home. For example, if your home is very small or you share your household with people who are at an increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Call the coronavirus hotline and learn about your options.

  1. Wash your hands often and use hand sanitiser.

Good hand hygiene is an effective way of preventing the spread of infection through contact with objects, hands and face. Washing your hands and using hand sanitiser works. However, it is recommended you always wash your hands when there is visible dirt on your hands, if your hands are damp or after you have been to the toilet, after you have changed a nappy and before you handle food. Hand sanitiser only works properly when your hands are dry and do not have any visible dirt. Also remember to help children to maintain good hand hygiene.

  1. Cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Good coughing etiquette prevents infection spreading through droplets or through contact. The recommendations are:

  • Cough into your elbow or into a paper handkerchief. Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser on your hands afterwards.
  • If you cough into your hands, wash your hands and then use hand sanitiser on your hands afterwards.
  1. Limit physical contact – avoid the shaking of hands, kissing on the cheek, embracing, etc.

Infection through contact is the biggest source of infection from people who are infected without any symptoms. It is therefore recommended that you limit your physical contact with other people, e.g. refrain from shaking hands and embracing – even when you do not have symptoms.

  1. Pay attention to cleaning and airing out – both at home and at the workplace

The risk of infection through contact is greatest from surfaces other people touch, e.g. handles, handrails, switches, pushbuttons, keyboards, armrests, the edges of tables, toys, tools, taps, toilets, etc. Clean these contact points often and thoroughly using ordinary cleaning agents and if required, disinfectant. Also ensure that the room or area is aired out regularly.

  1. Keep others at a distance and ask other people to show the same care and consideration

We recommend that you generally keep to a distance of 2 m from other people in public areas. By keeping your distance and limiting close physical contact, you can avoid the spread of infection through droplets or through contact. The spread of infection through droplets can occur for example, when someone coughs, sneezes, shouts, sings etc. and there are other people close-by.

For people infected with COVID-19, the following isolation procedure is recommended:

  • Isolation is required when you have symptoms that could be signs of COVID-19 and if you have a positive result from a PCR-test. Contact tracing is carried out by the Corona Secretariat acting for the National Board of Health in Greenland (“Landslægeembedet”).
  • A face mask must always be worn if there is a need to break isolation, e.g. in connection with visiting the health service.
  • Locations with public access must be clearly marked with signs forbidding access to people with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Workplaces, educational institutions, etc. should clearly mark entrances with signs stating that access is prohibited for persons with COVID-19 symptoms and should have clear procedures in place for the handling of personnel, students, visitors etc. with COVID-19 symptoms, including how working at home/studying at home can be organised.

Coughing etiquette

Good coughing etiquette prevents the spread of the virus by droplets or by hands and then to surfaces and contact points. Coughing or sneezing in a room can cause small droplets infected with the virus to escape into the room and if there are people close together in the room, the droplets can infect other people. When the virus lies on a surface, others can come into contact with the virus by touching the surface and thus spread the virus to other people and places.

Recommendations relating to coughing and sneezing:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a paper handkerchief and wash your hands and use hand sanitiser afterwards.
  • If you cough for sneeze into your hands, wash your hands or disinfect them with hand sanitiser immediately afterwards.

Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is an effective way of preventing the spread of infection through contact with items, hands and face. Washing your hands with soap and water, loosens and removes dirt and microorganisms from the skin and your hands become clean if you wash them correctly.

See a video about handwashing (in Greenlandic with Danish subtitles).

Methods for ensuring good hand hygiene:

  • Wash or disinfect your hands frequently and adjust the frequency of washing to suit the individual situation. For example:
    • Before a meal
    • After coughing/sneezing
    • When arriving at or departing from the home, school, shop, etc.
    • Before removing your face mask or other items
  • Wash your hands correctly using soap and water, i.e. for approximately one minute. It is recommended you wash your hands rather than use hand sanitiser if your hands are damp or visibly dirty, after you have used the bathroom, changed a nappy, and before handling food.
  • Hand sanitiser is suitable if you are outside or are unable to wash your hands. Keep your hands moist for at least 30 seconds while the hand sanitiser is rubbed in.
  • Bring hand sanitiser or wet serviettes when moving around among people and at locations with many contact points, e.g. when using public transport or when in groups of people.
  • Only touch the face when hands are clean, and wash and disinfect hands after touching the face.
  • Help people who are not personally able to carry out the correct hand hygiene. For example, small children need help with the correct technique for washing hands and for taking care of hands to prevent eczema of the hands.
  • Taking care of hands using moisturiser cream or similar can be a good way of preventing dry hands and of preventing eczema developing. Unperfumed moisturiser cream (40–70%) can be used on children.

Recommendations relating to good hand hygiene for public institutions, workplaces, etc.:

  • Make it easy for employees, visitors, customers, pupils, students etc. to keep their hands clean using washing facilities and/or hand sanitisers.
  • At locations where a lot of people meet or move around in or where there are many common contact points, there must be easy access to hand sanitisers e.g. in public institutions, at entrances, at workplaces, at associations, at places where items are served, at sports facilities, etc.
  • Ensure that hand sanitiser containers are kept filled during the day and ensure that hand sanitiser is available at entrances and at common contact points, e.g. in bus terminals, at ticket vending machines, coffee vending machines, fridges, etc.
  • In locations with public access or where a lot of people have access, e.g. at workplaces, there must be easy access to hand washing facilities with water and liquid soap and disposable hand towels. There should not be shared hand towels or shared bars of soap.

Using hand sanitiser

Hand sanitiser cannot replace ordinary washing of hands and will be less effective if you have not washed your hands first. Washing hands using soap and water removes the virus and dirt from the hands. Thus, you also remove dirt from the hands which the virus can survive in. Therefore, you must always use soap and water to clean your hands if dirt is visible on them.

Using a hand sanitiser can be a good supplement to washing hands, since they have good disinfectant properties. In addition, it can be a good idea to use hand sanitiser if you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water. Hand sanitisers are generally kinder to the skin than washing with soap and water. When you wash your hands, you dry out the skin. A hand sanitiser that has glycerine will moisturise the skin.

Hand sanitiser is chiefly an important aid to use at work, e.g. in the Health Service, home care and at homes for the elderly where there is often a greater risk of the spread of infection and where the personnel wash their hands more often during the day.

Cleaning of common contact points

Common contact points are surfaces that are touched by a lot of people. For example, handles, handrails, switches, pushbuttons, keyboards, armrests, the edges of tables, toys, tools, taps, toilets, etc. When a lot of people touch the same thing, the risk of infection spreading by contact increases. Frequent cleaning of common contact points is therefore especially important.

Cleaning with soap and water can loosen and remove dirt and microorganisms from surfaces and thus reduce the risk of infection spreading by contact. Ordinary cleaning using soap and water will be sufficient in most cases but can be supplemented with disinfection afterwards on the basis of a specific assessment and as a precautionary principle.

Items that are not suitable to get very wet, e.g. electronics items, can instead be disinfected. In addition, there may be materials that can be cleaned using other means, e.g. using a UV lamp, gas or steam. However, this always requires prior cleaning and that there are more stringent measures for being in a room where disinfection takes place and the personnel must have special training in being able to handle the equipment.

The frequency of cleaning should be adjusted to suit the activity, so that frequent and repeated cleaning of contact points is ensured in rooms, areas and situations with many visitors and/or where there is a lot of touching. For example, in day care institutions, schools, shops, places where items are served, public transport, gyms, commercial enterprises, etc.

The frequency of cleaning should be adapted to the season, so that more frequent cleaning is ensured during the autumn and winter season. More frequent cleaning also applies to clothing which can be contaminated with the coronavirus, even though clothing is assessed as being limited in relation to the spread of infection. In addition, there are no signs that the coronavirus is spread through food.

Methods for preventing the spread of infection from contact points:

  • Identification and marking of common contact points, e.g. door handles and pushbuttons.
  • Remove unnecessary contact points (e.g. customer satisfaction stations with pushbuttons, signs that separate items from payment terminals etc.) and use wireless systems (e.g. sensor activated lighting, hand-free taps, automatic or elbow-operated door opening, wireless payment terminals, etc.).
  • Regular and thorough cleaning of common contact points, which are cleaned at least once a day or more often when there are many visitors.
  • Ensure food is served in portions or use personal utensils or disposable aids at, e.g. buffet serving tables and where people eat together.
  • Shared utensils and paraphernalia should be cleaned between use by different users, or personal utensils or disposable equipment can be used.
  • Avoid sharing equipment that is difficult to clean between users, e.g. telephones, tablets, etc.
  • Empty wastebins on a daily basis and always before they are full.
  • In the case of washing of clothing, instructions should be followed but in homes where there is confirmed cases of coronavirus, towels, bed linen and underwear should be washed at min. 60 °C. Consider more frequent washing of textiles that are more exposed to droplets and secretions from the nose, e.g. scarves and gloves.

Airing out

Ventilation and airing out can minimise the risk of the spread of infection by the coronavirus when you stay indoors. Replacing the air can be done via the ventilation system or by airing out the room by opening windows and doors.

The coronavirus infects other people through contact and through small air droplets that contain the virus, which are transferred from person to person – by sneezing, coughing, talking or similar. When a person e.g. coughs or sneezes, most of the droplets will fall to the ground but some of the smallest droplets, called microdrops, remain in the air for longer and this increases the risk of the spread of infection.

If the air is not properly ventilated or aired out, the risk of infection spreading via the air increases, because the density of droplets increases. Changing the air lowers the concentration of microdrops in the air and therefore ventilation and the flow of air are important ways to prevent the spread of infection.

How to air out a room:

  • Open the windows and doors throughout the home, so that there are airflows through the home.
  • Leave windows and doors open for 5–10 minutes. 4-5 times daily.
  • If there are several people inside, air out more often, e.g. before and after visitors.
  • If there is more than one person in a room for a longer period of time, create airflow through the room once an hour.

Airing out is important but does not replace the advice on the prevention of the spread of the infection.

It is recommended that you keep to a distance of at least 2 m from other people in public areas. By keeping your distance and limiting close physical contact, you can avoid the spread of infection through droplets or through contact. The spread of infection through droplets can occur for example, when someone coughs, sneezes, shouts, sings etc. and there are other people close-by.

Social interaction and groups of people
Spending time with other people is important for our well-being and mental health. However, to prevent infection spreading it is important that we only spend a short time together with only a few people and do not meet with a lot of different people. We know that the risk of infection increases when we are a lot of people gathered together. In other words, the fewer people we have close contact with, the lesser the risk of becoming infected and of infecting others. It is therefore important that you try to limit how many people you see and think about how you can see each other. This applies to private and professional groups.

It applies to social activities in informal settings, where it can be difficult to meet the requirements and recommendations relating to distance and hygiene. It also applies to large gatherings, where there is a risk of these becoming “super spreader events”, which have been seen before, where one or more persons have infected a large number of people within a very short period of time. Everyone should follow the National Board of Health in Greenland’s (“Landslægeembedet”) general recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus when they gather in large groups. Pay attention to the Government of Greenland’s Act on temporary restrictions relating to gatherings, areas with public access and means of transport.

There can be a risk that you spread the infection even though you do not have any symptoms. Therefore, we recommend that you limit your number of social contacts. This applies regardless of whether you have tested negative, have previously been infected or are vaccinated.

Methods for keeping to a safe distance from other people and limiting physical contact

  • Public areas, facilities, associations, places where items are served, institutions etc. where employees, visitors and customers move and mix should ensure that at all times it is possible to keep to a 2 m distance from other people. This also applies to e.g. entrance areas, payment areas, service facilities, common areas and toilet facilities. This can be done by using clear signage, partitioning rooms, setting up tables, using distance markers on table edges, marking on floors and similar measures that can function as regulating people’s movement and conduct (‘nudging’), which supports and maintains distance between people in public spaces. Shop entrances can be clearly marked showing how many people may be in the shop at any one time.
  • The total number of contacts in day care centres, schools etc., can be reduced by for example, dividing the children into smaller groups and into fixed groups/rooms. You should also be able to reduce the number of contacts by keeping classes separated during break times, for example by holding staggered breaks. In classrooms or other places with desks and chairs, you can limit face-to-face contact by arranging the desks in rows or by increasing the distances between desks that face each other.
  • At the workplace, employees can meet at staggered times and meeting rooms and other areas where they meet can be arranged so that it is possible to keep a distance, e.g. by reducing the number of chairs.
  • In public transport passengers can be helped to keep their distance and reduce the number of contacts by e.g. limiting mobility, limiting standing passengers by using booked seating, reducing the possibility of passengers moving around and between each other, etc.
  • In the services sector, general health services sector, etc., booking times can be used as a tool to limit queues forming and to prevent waiting rooms from filling up.