An empty government loge in the session hall of the Finnish Parliament on Thursday, 7 May 2020. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THE ENTIRE Finnish government will work remotely at least until the end of this week after two of its members came in contact with a person who is suspected of having been infected with the new coronavirus.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) made the decision yesterday after it was determined that also the rest of her cabinet may have been indirectly exposed to the virus.

Confirmed coronavirus infections rise to almost 5,700, deaths to over 250

  • The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) says the number of laboratory-confirmed coronavirus infections rose by 100 to 5,673 between Wednesday and Thursday.
  • The new coronavirus thereby has an incidence of 102 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Finland.
  • The death toll from the virus stands at 255, signalling an increase of three from Wednesday.
  • Further details are presently available on 211 of the fatalities: 52 per cent of them are male and their median age is 84 years.
  • A total of 174 people are currently in hospital care, including 44 in critical care, with symptoms caused by the virus.
  • Over 112,000 samples have been tested for the virus, representing an increase of 3,900 from Wednesday.
  • At least 3,500 people are believed to have recovered from the disease.

Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen (SDP) and Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen (Left Alliance) may have been exposed to the virus through contact with the suspected carrier on Tuesday. Both Haatainen and Pekonen took part in a government session at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on Wednesday.

The government was split into two separate groups for the session, but due to a handful of “isolated encounters” between ministers outside the negotiations all of its members will work remotely until further notice.

Haatainen and Pekonen were part of the same group and did not come in contact with all of their colleagues, according to Päivi Anttikoski, the chief of government communications.

Anttikoski revealed to Uusi Suomi on Thursday that neither of the ministers has yet been tested for the new coronavirus due to the short amount of time that has elapsed since the possible exposure. The suspected carrier, on the other hand, was tested yesterday and the results are expected by Saturday.

“We’re now waiting for the test results of the exposed person and we’ll make further assessments based on them. If it turns out that they’re negative, the government will return to the normal that was,” she said. “If it turns out that the person who may have exposed the ministers has the coronavirus, we’ll determine the need to test ministers on a case-by-case basis. The two exposed ministers will of course be tested.”

The ministers will also follow instructions and self-isolate for 7–14 days if it is confirmed they were exposed to the virus.

The Finnish Parliament cancelled Thursday’s question-time debate due to the suspected exposure.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi