MP talk

“I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence…Moreover, he who has contracted the disease and recovered should keep away from others and not admit them into his presence unless it be necessary."

Though one should aid him in his time of need, as previously pointed out, he, in turn, should, after his recovery, so act toward others that no one becomes unnecessarily endangered on his account and so cause another’s death.“

This counsel was not given by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, but by Martin Luther in 1527 in a letter entitled, “Whether one may flee from a deadly plague,”. The bubonic plague had hammered Europe since the 12th century. The plague’s originated in China, where it caused devastation in the province of Hubei, the center of the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Luther recommended social distancing, apart from doctors, nurses, and priests, who were to help the sick.

Medicine has developed since the Middle Ages. We have overcome many diseases with medicine and vaccinations, the plague included. New dangerous epidemics break out, however, and before any medicine or vaccination is available, we have to resort to instructions that are hundreds of years old. Intensive care can be used for the deadliest forms of coronavirus, but it has been proven to have its limits.

In order for coronavirus pandemic not to cause recurrent fiscal spending and increasing public debt, we need strong measures to suppress the virus. We need a greater partnership between the public and private sectors to boost virus testing capacity. We need better informing about corona testing possibilities and the threshold for testing must be lowered. Testing should be gradually widened to the whole population so that infection chains can be tracked. The use of mobile applications for contact tracing should be available quickly. The infected must be taken care of and those exposed to the virus ordered into quarantine.

It is important to reopen society as soon as possible without endangering the lives and health of people. The sooner business is back on its feet, the smaller the damage to the economy will be.

The pandemic will leave deep changes in our lives. Could new, positive signs of hope rise in the midst of all the grief and economic losses? Distancing, quarantine, and protecting the vulnerable are common concepts globally. Lockdowns and distancing have stalled climate change momentum and emissions have fallen. Services have taken a digital leap.

This state of emergency tests the mental strength of the nation. The discoveries we make about what is important in life, like social solidarity, knocking on our older neighbor’s door, and taking care of our loved ones, will help us build the society also after we have overcome the pandemic.


Päivi Räsänen

Member of Parliament, Christian Democrats

Medical doctor


This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of Parliament are encouraged to contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times. 


Adam Oliver Smith - HT