Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen (Left Alliance) briefed members of the press about the coronavirus situation in Finland in Helsinki on Thursday, 27 February 2020. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THERE IS currently no coronavirus epidemic in Finland, although the government has prepared for one, says Aino-Kaisa Pekonen (Left Alliance), the Minister of Social Affairs and Health.

The Finnish government appeared before the media yesterday to cast light on the measures it will take to prepare for the spread of the new coronavirus and the situation update presented to it one day earlier by experts and officials.

“We’re prepared for a possible epidemic,” she assured.

“We’re also prepared for the eventuality that a large share of Finns get sick in Finland. And we have a plan for that eventuality.”

Pekonen underscored that there is currently no coronavirus epidemic in Finland: Only two cases of the virus have been confirmed thus far and the risk of contracting the virus in the country remains low.

Finnish authorities, she added, are capable of raising their preparedness on a short notice if the situation changes. Their focus is currently on preventing an epidemic and confining it both nationally and internationally, meaning updating the communication strategies related to the situation and ensuring the sufficiency of protective devices for health care professionals.

“We at the moment have enough of these in both the regions and contingency stocks,” she told.

If the domestic situation were to escalate into an epidemic, the authorities would turn their attention from epidemic prevention to epidemic control and treatment, according to Pekonen.

She added that the government received regular updates of any changes in the global situation.

The Finnish government announced yesterday it will set up a task force consisting of the state secretaries and preparedness directors of different ministries to co-ordinate the effort. It has also set 8.9 million euros for additional costs arising from situations such as the coronavirus outbreak and is prepared to amend the budget to cover any excess costs.

The Finnish Parliament was briefed on the situation and preparedness on Thursday, 27 February.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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