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7 infections on Skopje flight, but authorities say no grounds for suspension

More than 60 Covid cases were seen in passengers arriving from North Macedonia in summer and early autumn.

Wizz Airin kone Turun lentoasemalla.
Stock image of WizzAir flight from Skopje to Turku. Image: Linus Hoffman / Yle

There are no grounds for suspending flights between Turku and Skopje, health authorities have told Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom.

On Friday, seven Covid-19 cases were detected on a flight from North Macedonia to Turku. According to the City of Turku, 43 out of 49 passengers were tested. All passengers were instructed to go into voluntary quarantine.

Traficom suspended the flights on the route for two weeks in late August, after which Hungarian airline Wizz Air stopped flying the route for more than a month, due to business concerns.

Traficom officials said that when they were informed about flights resuming on the route, they asked health authorities for an opinion on whether it was necessary to suspend those flights again.

Health authorities said that keeping the route open would be better, as suspending flights could lead to visitors entering Finland through different routes that are under less scrutiny.

Jarkko Saarimaäki, Traficom's director of transport systems services, said health authorities suggested it would be easier to receive Skopje passengers in a controlled and safe manner to avoid the risk of broader exposures.

According to the so-called traffic light model developed by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) to assess the travel risks associated with the pandemic, Northern Macedonia is in the red zone, which indicates the highest level of risk.

Currently, passengers from Skopje don’t need to have a negative coronavirus test result to enter the country, but they can voluntarily take such a test in order to shorten recommended quarantine instructions.

The government is currently working on a proposal on travellers' negative test requirements.

"I cannot estimate when the political discussion will take place, Saarimäki said.

More than 60 coronavirus infections were detected on Skopje flights in summer and early autumn. The next flight from North Macedonia is scheduled to arrive in Turku on Friday.

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