PM Sanna Marin announces the measures at a press conference earlier today (Image: Lehtikuva)

News in brief

THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT HAS ANNOUNCED SWEEPING MEASURES to close its borders and schools as part of a package of emergency legislation designed to contain the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Effective from Wednesday 18 March, Finland will close all schools in the country, although daycare centres will remain open. In addition, the PM announced that parents who have jobs that are "critical to the functioning of society" can send their children to specially arranged care if they are in grades 1-3. 

The 19-point emergency legislation also contains plans for Finland to imminently close its borders, in a move that will effectively halt all travel in and out of the country. Finnish citizens and permanent residents abroad will be asked to return home and to observe a 2-week period of self-isolation. 

All gatherings of more than 10 people will also be banned, while museums, libraries, swimming pools, and youth clubs will be required to close. The government has also recommended that any and all religious congregations halt gatherings. 

Visits to elderly care facilities will be suspended, while any non-emergency activities in the healthcare sector will be reduced. Coronavirus testing is also to be ramped up significantly. 

According to official estimates, Finland now has 272 confirmed cases of coronavirus. However, it is believed by medical professionals that the actual number is likely to be 20-30 times higher than the official figure. 


Adam Oliver Smith - HT

Image Credit: Lehtikuva