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Finnish PM urges untested arrivals from Russia to get Covid tests

Concern is growing in Finland about hundreds of people who were permitted across the eastern border without being tested for coronavirus infections earlier this week.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Brussels on Thursday. Image: EPA-EFE/ARIS OIKONOMOU/POOL

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) said on Thursday that she is concerned about the coronavirus infections that many people appear to have brought into the country as they crossed the Russian border into Finland earlier this week.

Health officials in southeastern Finland's region of Kymenlaakso said that 86 new coronavirus infections had been detected among individuals who were tested as they entered Finland at the Vaalimaa and Nuijamaa border crossings earlier this week.

As of Tuesday, 72 positive cases were confirmed in the border crossing tests, among people from across Finland.

Marin: All should be tested

"It's important that every single person [who arrived] be tested. Then possible cases will be caught and the disease cannot spread," Marin said.

Finland's premier made the comments in Brussels as she arrived for an EU summit where, among other things, the topic of EU cooperation regarding the coronavirus pandemic was scheduled to be discussed.

Marin said that Finland's testing capacity should not yet be reduced, despite the fact the number of vaccinations has progressed. She noted that testing and identification of Covid variants was also needed.

The Vaalimaa border crossing was jammed on Tuesday evening as football fans who'd travelled to St Petersburg to watch Finland play in the Euro2020 Championship returned home. According to the South-East Finland Border Guard, at worst there were a dozen buses and several hundred cars waiting at the border.

The queues prompted authorities to allow around 800 travellers into Finland without being tested.

Health authorities in the Kymenlaakso region are aware of one individual who returned from Russia who did not comply with quarantine recommendations, visiting bars and a public event before eventually testing positive for Covid.