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Health minister faces confidence vote over mixed mask messaging

Opposition party NCP accused minister Krista Kiuru of misleading communication on masks during the pandemic.

Krista Kiuru kyselytunnilla
Social Affairs and Health Minister Krista Kiuru Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva
Yle News

National Coalition Party MPs want Social Affairs and Health minister Krista Kiuru to face a confidence vote over what they say were misleading and contradictory messages about masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kai Mykkänen, chair of the NCP’s parliamentary group, and MP Mia Laiho said on Friday that Kiuru's support among MPs should be tested.

NCP leader Petteri Orpo endorsed the confidence vote proposal in a tweet.

"The corona crisis is likely to continue for a long time to come. Parliament and Finns must be able to trust the minister responsible for managing the crisis. This is not the case now. Because @MiaLaiho & @KaiMykkanen suggest that Minister Kiuru does not enjoy the confidence of Parliament. I support the proposal," Orpo said.

According to Mykkänen, the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health (STM) had at Kiuru's direction issued statements on the use of masks that did not reflect the best available scientific evidence.

"Even on 3 June, STM decided under Kiuru's leadership not to issue a mask recommendation," said Mykkänen.

According to Mykkänen, disposable masks would have been widely available in the spring if there had been clear instructions to use them.

PM Marin expresses confidence in Kiuru

There was a heated debate about masks in Parliament on Thursday. MP Pauli Kiuru (NCP) asked the cabinet why the mask recommendation was issued only in late summer, when the World Health Organisation had been recommending the use of masks since spring.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) had responded that it would not have been possible to issue an extensive mask recommendation in spring because no masks were available at the time.

Mykkänen said citizens should be able to trust that the ministry’s criteria on various protective measures were honest and based on the best information available.

"In each situation, the management of STM and the minister responsible for managing the coronavirus situation must provide the whole truth as to why some means were chosen,” Mykkänen said.

According to Mykkänen, the confidence motion has not been discussed with other opposition parties. The matter must be properly examined, Mykkänen said at the press conference.

The vote will take place at the beginning of next week's plenary session on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Marin tweeted that she and the government had confidence in Kiuru. According to Marin, the government relied on the latest advice from health authorities in fighting the epidemic.

“This has also been the case for the mask recommendation. Kiuru has performed her duties in a very exceptionally difficult situation,” Marin wrote.

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