A sign for a COVID-19 testing point at the Finnish-Swedish border checkpoint in Tornio, Lapland/Lehtikuva

News in brief

Finnish tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that authorities are no longer conducting COVID-19 tests on travellers crossing into Finland from Norway or Sweden via the border checkpoints in Lapland. 

Finland reported its first case of the Mu strain of the COVID-19 virus earlier this week. Officially termed B.1.621, it was designated a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization (WHO) last month and has been detected in 39 other countries so far.

Travellers from Norway and Sweden can now enter Finland without being tested 

According to a report by Ilta-Sanomat, travellers are no longer required to get tested or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or a vaccination certificate at Finland’s border crossings with Sweden and Norway in Lapland. 

Markku Broas, chief infection officer of the Lapland hospital district, told the paper that the decision is in line with Finland’s Communicable Diseases Act and has been approved by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

According to Broas, the practice of testing, which took up a significant amount of resources has been replaced with distributing pamphlets containing instructions for those visiting the country. The responsibility of curtailing the spread of the virus now lies on the individual, he said.  

Border authorities also no longer check whether the visitor has recently been to a country with a high incidence of COVID-19 infections. Broas confirmed that the new policy has been in place since 9 September, and does not apply to the Russian border or other checkpoints.  


Finland detects first cases of Mu COVID-19 variant  

Yle reports that Finland has detected a few cases of the Mu variant of the COVID-19 virus since summer. The new strain, which has been designated a “variant of interest” by WHO, was identified by genome sequencing positive samples of the virus. 

Ilkka Julkunen, a virology professor with Turku University, stated that the Mu variant does not pose any more of a threat than existing strains. He believes that current vaccines will likely provide adequate protection against the new mutation.

The Mu variant was first detected in Colombia in January. The Delta variant currently accounts for an estimated 95 percent of all COVID-19 cases in Finland.