Quarantine must for passengers from risk countries
11 Aug 2020, 00:53
The government on Monday announced obligatory quarantine for the people arriving in Finland from countries of high coronavirus risk as a move to check spread of infection in the country.
Family Affairs and Social Services Minister Krista Kiuru made the announcement from a press conference late Monday night, when she also warned to take punitive measures against any violation in this regard.
In case of violation of the quarantine order, the authorities may impose fine or award up to three-months of imprisonment.
Earlier, on Monday evening, the City of Turku said that a couple of dozens of passengers who arrived in Turku on a flight from Skopje in northern Macedonia on Saturday were found infected with coronavirus.
The authorities confirmed that 24 out of the 157 passengers on the flight from Skopje had coronavirus infections.
National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) Director Mika Salminen, who also spoke at the press conference, said the quarantine measures were not recommendations but mandatory, reported the national broadcaster Yle.
“This is no longer a matter of voluntary quarantine. For the first time, Article 70 of the Communicable Diseases Act is being used,” the Yle report quoted Salminen as saying.
Finland considers those countries are in high-risk group where more than eight confirmed coronavirus cases are recorded per 100,000 residents a day.
News agency Xinhua adds: Finland has so far been recommending a 14-day quarantine for people arriving from "unsafe countries." The voluntary approach has been given up, and from now on, all arrivals from "unsafe countries" by air or sea will be ordered into a legally binding 14-day quarantine. Kiuru said the ruling will also cover land borders as soon as possible.
Finland will also trace down passengers who have changed flights to technically "arrive from a safe country." Kiuru announced that airlines will be required to submit information about passengers who have originated in an unsafe country and have transited through a safe country.
Kiuru said the new policy decisions were taken by the government following updated information that about half of the current infections in Finland have been attributed to foreign travel.
Timo Harakka, Minister of Transport and Communications, said at the press conference that Finland aims at stopping the rising infection levels "in the bud." He said that Finnish people should consider twice before embarking on travel to risky countries, as quarantine will await upon returning.
Presently, the THL considers South Korea, Georgia, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Greece, Cyprus, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Rwanda, Germany, San Marino, Slovakia, Denmark, Thailand, Tunisia, Hungary, Uruguay, New Zealand, the Vatican, and Estonia as safe countries.
Earlier this month, the Finnish authorities started coronavirus tests for incoming passengers at Helsinki Airport.
The initiative of the coronavirus testing was taken jointly by the City of Vantaa, the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health, the THL, the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS), and Finavia, the company that operates the country’s airports.