10 August 2020
10 August 2020 Gianluca Casagrande

As everybody else in these days, NANUQ2020 had to work its plans to take into proper account the developments of the Covid19 pandemics in all of Europe. An Arctic expedition may mean – as it does in this case – travelling long distances from one country to another, interacting with people and operating in very dense spaces for long times. 10-12 people living and working for days in a 17.8 meter, 18 tonnes boat in the Arctic creates a definite condition of confinement from contacts with external people; provided, naturally, that all crew-members are not affected by Covid19. Before getting to the Arctic, however, and after return, the crew and the boat must be serviced in different manners, and the crew itself do have contact with others; nothing that obvious, while the most severe pandemic in over a century is spreading.  The expedition had therefore to take specific measures related to preventing contagion and to ensure the safety of both the workgroup members and their external counterparts at all times and in all places. In the last days before leaving France and Switzerland, heading to Norway for leg 19, the expedition crewmembers underwent systematic Covid19 tests, since certification of negativity was required by the expedition management before the crew could even gather. Rigorous hygene and social distancing measures were taken during travel and transfers of personnel and crew-member before NANUQ’s departure. Upon her arrival to Iceland, S/Y NANUQ was inspected by local police, customs officers and medical personnel, who tested all crewmembers, again, for negativity to Covid19. Contacts with external persons in Norway and Iceland were, and are being, held so as to keep a safe distance between crew-members and the external persons; no contact with local people took place during NANUQ’s operation in Greenland; all crewmembers have Covid19-contact-tracing APPs installed on personal communication devices. Finally, the whole crew has been onboard or in the vicinity of the boat for the entire research activity. With all this, during the  expedition, no crew-member developed Covid-19 or remarkable Covid19-like symptoms. The appropriate definition and management of anti-Covid19 measures is a new element which adds to the set of traditional requirements for planning and conducting an Arctic expedition; a novelty which – triggered by this pandemic, but applicable to other similar cases of contagion – may become part of polar researchers’modus operandi.