Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) spoke to reporters outside the House of the Estates in Helsinki on Tuesday, 30 November 2021. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) on Tuesday issued a nationwide remote-work recommendation after determining that additional measures and restrictions are necessary in several regions to rein in the coronavirus epidemic, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

“We’re in a race against the delta variant. It’s spreading faster than the vaccine uptake is rising,” said Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP).

The government, she emphasised, simply cannot wait to see how the epidemiological situation develops.

She revealed that the government will provide further information about the measures required at border-crossing points to prevent the latest variant of concern, the omicron variant, from entering Finland on Thursday. No infections caused by the variant have yet been confirmed in the country, but the samples of two people have been sent for further analyses.

The next couple of weeks will be key for taking control of the epidemiological situation, viewed Kiuru.

She drew attention to the importance of increasing the vaccine uptake, adding that encouragement to speed up the third round of vaccinations has been received also from European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides. Vaccination experts, she added, must also be given the time to carry out their work.

“The government is willing to speed up the third vaccination round,” she said, reminding that the entire campaign could do with a shot in the arm as the weekly number of doses administered has been as low as 20,000.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will additionally issue a letter urging authorities in community transmission areas to step up their efforts to prevent infections.

Also the testing and tracing strategy is in need of an update, according to Kiuru. “We got instructions also for this from the health commissioner, and we’ll heed the hint,” she commented to Helsingin Sanomat.

It is important, she said, to increase the use of antigen and at-home tests and make sure also vaccinated people are getting tested. Measures targeted at children and young people should contrastively be avoided.

The government also reiterated its support for expanding the use of the coronavirus passport and enabling its use on a voluntary basis.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT