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No plans in Finland on restoration of UK travel yet, THL researcher says

The Nordic country is awaiting new information from Britain concerning the mutated version of the coronavirus.

File photo of passengers at Helsinki Airport. Image: Arttu Timonen / Yle

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is not yet issuing new recommendations regarding restoring passenger air traffic between Finland and the UK, the agency's research professor Hannu Kiviranta said on Wednesday evening.

Like many countries around the world, Finland halted passenger air travel to and from the UK on Monday, due to the spread of a new mutation of coronavirus in Britain.

On Tuesday the THL recommended that any person who travelled to Finland from the United Kingdom on or after 7 December to be tested for coronavirus. The recommendation is applicable even if there are no symptoms of the virus, and also applies to persons who may have already taken a coronavirus test once or even twice since coming to Finland from the UK.

Kiviranta said he was not aware of immediate plans by authorities to change the cancellations of such direct flights, adding that THL was involved in discussions between ministries and the government.

THL is awaiting more information from British authorities about the new variant of the virus, Kiviranta said, noting that those details are expected next week.

The main concern surrounding the mutated version of the coronavirus was its ability to spread more easily than the more common variety of the virus.

"There is no precise information of the variety's effect on the severity of the disease nor of the efficacy which vaccines might have against it," he explained.

He said the situation led to health authorities in different countries to restrict travel from the UK, due to an increase in the number of cases in December, as more time was needed to prepare themselves for eventual emergence of the variant.

Kiviranta noted that the new coronavirus variant may infect young people more than the more common version of the virus.

However, based on recent samples, the mutated version has not yet been detected in Finland, according to the research professor.