The Finnish government announced that restrictions will be introduced for travelers from ten countries from Monday, August 24, amid concerns regarding the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Those arriving from Cyprus, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Malta, Norway, San Marino, and Japan may only enter for purposes deemed essential. Those returning to Finland from these locations will be required to undertake a two-week self-quarantine. Authorities also announced that stricter land border entry restrictions from Norway and Sweden whereby only those with families living in "local border communities" will be permitted entry.
Finnish authorities discontinued the 14-day quarantine period for leisure travelers arriving from some destinations on July 13. Travelers from countries that have less than eight cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a two-week period will be able to enter Finland without adhering to the 14-day quarantine period.
The easing of restrictions is conditional on the number of COVID-19 cases remaining under control. Events with more than 500 attendees will be permitted from August 31, both indoors and outdoors, providing certain social distancing and hygiene measures are adhered to. The government has already allowed events of up to 500 people to take place as long as organizers can control the number of attendees and limit close contact between them. Authorities continue to advise that facemasks be used on public transport and in situations where social distancing is difficult.
As of Thursday, August 20, health authorities have confirmed 7805 COVID-19 cases and 334 associated deaths in Finland. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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