THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT on Thursday confirmed it is resorting to stricter entry restrictions in an attempt to prevent the latest coronavirus variant, omicron, from spreading uncontrollably in Finland, reports Helsingin Sanomat.
Travellers from outside the European Union and Schengen Area will be required to present proof of a negative coronavirus test done no earlier than 48 ours before their arrival in the country.
The pre-entry testing requirement will enter into force on Tuesday, 21 December, and remain in effect until 16 January. Finnish citizens and permanent residents, as well as passengers who do not venture outside the airport area during their layover, have been made exempt of the requirement.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Thursday held a press conference to detail the latest measures taken in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.
It also announced that health inspections at border-crossing points will become mandatory for passengers from Denmark, Nigeria, Norway and the UK. The list of countries, it added, may be expanded in the near future to include other countries struggling to contain the highly transmissible variant.
Both pre-entry testing and post-arrival self-testing are additionally recommended for all passengers arriving in Finland.
Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) indicated that the epidemiological situation may exacerbate significantly also in Finland. The country, she said, may be faced with a tidal wave of infections that doubles, if not triples, infection numbers from present levels.
“We have to pick up the pace both when it comes to vaccinations and when it comes to measures. The coronavirus situation doesn’t let us wait for solutions to come up – we have to make them,” she stressed.
“We have to do everything we can to prepare for the tidal wave that’s coming.”
The government yesterday also approved a decree that seeks to encourage municipalities to utilise occupational health care providers in their vaccination campaigns. While municipalities have already had the possibility to request assistance from occupational health sector, the possibility has only been taken advantage of to a limited extent, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
Kiuru underscored that large municipalities in particular should look into the possibilities of local occupational health care providers to take part in distributing coronavirus vaccines.
“It’d be senseless if municipalities and local municipal authorities had to see to the vaccinations themselves. Also the earlier decree outlined that the occupational health sector has the right to participate in implementing the vaccinations.”
A total of 10,500 coronavirus infections were detected in Finland between 6 and 12 December.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT