The new rules will be applied as soon as possible.

Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

Finland will introduce mandatory coronavirus tests and quarantines for travelers arriving from high-risk countries in an effort to tackle the spread of the virus. Representatives of the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Finnish Institute of the Health and Welfare (THL) told about the decision in a press conference on Monday evening.

Some of the recent infections, according to THL, are related to travel and some are endemic. Director of the Department of Health Security at THL Mika Salminen said the new travel-related infections have been traced to Balkans. “People have traveled to risk countries more than allowed by the recommendations,” he said.

On Saturday, the City of Turku’s health department and Turku University Hospital did a coronavirus test for all 157 passengers arriving from Skopje in North Macedonia. 24 tested positive for Covid-19 and were transferred to voluntary quarantine.

Another larger-scale testing was conducted at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport on Friday targeting travelers from Bucharest in Romania. While some passengers refused the test, 65 were tested and the results were negative.

While the definition of a high-risk country is continuously assessed, currently the rule applies to many countries, excluding 25 countries such as Italy, Japan, Greece and Norway where infections remain low at present.

In the future, airlines would be required to inform if the plane carries passengers from a high-risk country, including those who may have switched flights.

The new rules will be applied as soon as possible, according to the minister of family affairs and social services, Krista Kiuru (the SDP).

Failure to respect the two-week quarantine would be penalized with a fine or up to three months in prison.

“The voluntary quarantine has realized as wishful thinking,” Kiuru concluded.