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Govt to ensure health security in cross-border traffic

Published : 14 Jul 2020, 18:36

Updated : 15 Jul 2020, 07:45

  DF Report

Past government briefing on COVID-19 situation.Government of Finland photo by Lauri Heikkinen.

The government on Monday decided to establish an inter-ministerial working group tasked with ensuring health security at border crossing points, said a government press release.

According to the release, the government is preparing for an increase in passenger numbers at Finland’s border-crossing points, and, with this in mind, the decision aims to mitigate the epidemiological situation as effectively as possible as traffic picks up.

Under section 7 of the Communicable Diseases Act, the social affairs and health ministry is responsible for the general planning, steering, and monitoring of the prevention of infectious diseases, for preparing for healthcare disturbances on a national scale, and for operating as a leader in such situations.

In line with this mandate, the ministry has appointed a working group tasked with ensuring seamless cooperation between the authorities and other relevant operators in combating the COVID-19 epidemic at border-crossing points.

In addition to the social affairs and health ministry, the working group will include representatives of at least the interior ministry, the foreign ministry, the transport and communications ministry, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Regional State Administrative Agency, the transport and communications agencies Traficom and Finavia. The work will also involve cooperation with representatives from local governments and regional administrative authorities responsible for combating infectious diseases at each border-crossing point and at Lappeenranta airport as appropriate.

The social affairs and health ministry will draw up a plan to ensure the health security at entry points and will be in charge of leading the implementation of the plan. Each of the ministries, authorities and other operators in the working group will be responsible for implementing the plan based on their respective mandates and spheres of competence. The family affairs and social services ministry will lead the cooperation between the ministers concerned.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the need for a variety of measures at Finland’s borders. Numerous different operators have been involved in these measures, each of them acting in accordance with its own legislative jurisdiction. Different networks have agreed on cooperation, depending on the situation, and administrative assistance has been used as needed. The new working group will continue to coordinate cooperation between the authorities at the borders in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

The tasks and term of office of the working group are specified in more detail in the appointment decision. The responsibility for implementing the measures will remain with the competent authorities, but the working group will ensure that no situation is ignored while combating the epidemic at border-crossing points.