Eija Korolainen-Koivisto was waiting for the results of a voluntary coronavirus test she took at the border crossing point in Tornio, Western Lapland, on 27 January 2021. (Jyrki Nikkilä – Lehtikuva)

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THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT is scrambling to finalise yet another amendment to the act on communicable diseases in an attempt to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus in Finland.

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) on Monday shed light on the timetable for transitioning toward mandatory testing at entry points at an event organised by political journalists.

“It’s eroding the understanding and morale of people when those who cross the border to come here refuse [to take the test] and justify it by saying because they have the possibility they won’t take the test,” she was quoted as saying by YLE.

Kiuru added that the government will strive to submit the bill to lawmakers by the end of this week, highlighting that it has already been examined by the Chancellor of Justice.

The public broadcasting company wrote that the government continues to mull over, for example, whether testing should be mandatory for everyone arriving from abroad or only for those arriving from the worst-affected regions.

It is probable that people who have recovered from the disease or are able to provide proof of either coronavirus vaccination or a recent negative test will be made exempt from the testing. Among the other issues still on the table, however, is how recent the negative test must be to earn the exemption, according to YLE.

The broadcasting company also clarified that the term ‘mandatory testing’ would not mean that passengers are forced to take the test, as those refusing to take the test would be ordered into quarantine, by a separate decision, instead of being denied entry altogether.

More efficient testing at the borders has been viewed as one way to trace the more transmissible variants of the coronavirus.

“We’re preparing a proposal that would be credible and have the justification, necessity and degree of definition required under the constitution, so that it could be approved by the Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee,” Jari Keinänen, a director at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, summarised to YLE.

“As we’re having to combat the virus mutations, it adds a new dimension to the justification.”

Keinänen, however, also expressed his doubt that the bill can be finalised by the end of the week, given the high number of major unresolved issues. “We’re still examining the alternatives. It’s the view of officials that [this week] feels pretty challenging,” he said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT