Monday January 18, 2021

Finland suspends Ireland, SA flights too

Published : 09 Jan 2021, 00:26

Updated : 09 Jan 2021, 09:34

  DF Report

Photo: Finavia.

Finland on Friday decided to suspend all flights to and from Ireland and South Africa from January 11 to January 18 following the emergence of a highly infectious variant of coronavirus, said the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom) in a press release.

Traficom took the decision following a recommendation made by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Meanwhile, the authorities concerned also decided to continue the suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom until 18 January.

The decision, however, does not concern overflights, technical intermediate stops, ferry flights with own crew, state aviation, ambulance flights, or cargo flights.

According to the THL, travellers arriving from the United Kingdom, South Africa and now Ireland constitute a significant risk factor with regard to the transmission in Finland of new variants of the COVID-19 virus.

As a result, the THL considers it necessary and proportionate in light of the threat caused by the pandemic that the suspension of passenger flights arriving from the United Kingdom should be extended for a minimum of one week as of 11 January 2021 and an equivalent restriction be imposed on passenger air services from South Africa and Ireland.

Earlier, on 21 December, Finland decided to suspend all flights to and from the United Kingdom for two weeks until 4 January and later, on 2 January, extended the suspension until 11 January following the emergence of a highly infectious variant of coronavirus.

In a risk assessment published on 29 December 2020, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said the new COVID-19 variant detected in the UK is transmitted significantly more rapidly than the earlier strains of the virus.

As the majority of cases have been linked to travelling to the United Kingdom and potentially other areas with a high incidence of the virus variant should be avoided and particular attention paid to health security at borders.

A traveller who arrived from South Africa has also tested positive for a slightly different type of virus variant, which may also be capable of spreading faster. Similar cases have been detected in several other countries, leading many to restrict travel by air and other means to countries with a high incidence of coronavirus variants.