THE EUROPEAN CENTRE for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has highlighted Finland in red on its weekly updated map of the continent on grounds of the coronavirus situation.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has revealed that 140 infections per 100,000 inhabitants were detected in the country between 27 September and 10 October, representing a surge of over 30 per cent from the period between 13 and 26 September.
“It’s no wonder that Finland has been labelled as a red country by the EU,” Kirsi Varhila, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, stated to Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday.
ECDC highlights a country in red if its 14-day cumulative infection rate is between 75 and 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and the test positivity rate is at least four per cent, or if its 14-day cumulative infection rate is between 200 and 500 irrespective of the test positivity rate. Travel to countries highlighted in red or dark red is not recommended.
Several Finns are expected to travel abroad during the two-week autumn holiday season starting this week. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has urged all holiday-makers to contact border officials in the destination country to determine if they are affected by any entry restrictions and monitor the websites of embassies.
“It’s always the smart thing to do but especially in this case,” noted Varhila.
Travel to Finland is allowed despite the recommendation of ECDC. A condition for the entry, however, is that passengers present a certificate of completed coronavirus vaccination, recent negative coronavirus test or recent recovery from the coronavirus disease. Passengers not in possession of such a certificate are required to get tested upon or 24 hours after entry and again three days later.
Varhila told Helsingin Sanomat that Finns are unlikely to be subjected to special monitoring.
“All countries have devised their own criteria for gaining entry to the country. There may be countries that don’t welcome passengers from red countries,” she added.
She also expressed her concern about the current epidemiological situation in Finland.
“The incidence rate is needlessly high here. The daily number of infections is in the 600–700 range. This is particularly alarming for unvaccinated people,” she said, reiterating her disapproval of lifting restrictions before the vaccination coverage reached 80 per cent.
Is there a risk autumn holidays will be put on hold?
“That’s something everyone has to evaluate themselves,” she replied to the newspaper. “In a situation where a family has vaccinations in order, the risk is lower than. You could also look a bit into where you’re travelling in your home country and what the regional disease situation is.”
“It naturally depends on how you behave, meaning do you steer clear of crowds and remember the hygiene procedures.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT