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Covid-positive case on bus from Russia, 50 exposed to virus

The bus arrived in Hamina from St. Petersburg last Tuesday.

Rajavartiolaitoksen stop-kyltti itärajalla
About 10 buses enter Finland from Russia every week at the Vaalimaa border crossing in the southeast. Image: Pyry Sarkiola / Yle

One passenger aboard a bus travelling from Russia has tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Finland.

The bus reportedly left St.Petersburg with 51 passengers and arrived in the port town of Hamina in southeast Finland on 8 September.

The affected passenger was said to have begun experiencing symptoms on the day after the bus arrived, on 9 September and subsequently tested positive for the disease.

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, authorities have been able to gather contact information for 32 passengers and infectious diseases officials will reach out to them. Officials are still to collect contact details for the remaining 18 passengers.

People who were exposed during the trip will likely be ordered into quarantine.

Travel restrictions in place

There are currently travel restrictions between Russia and Finland in place because of the coronavirus epidemic. People who are Finnish citizens or permanent residents are free to enter Finland.

However people who wish to travel to Finland from Russia can only do so for compelling reasons such as unavoidable family reasons or for critical work related to ensuring Finland’s security of supply.

"The corona situation in Russia is considerably worse than in Finland. Spending time in such countries increases the risk of coronavirus infection compared to the risk in Finland. Everyone should carefully consider whether or not it is essential to visit Russia or to travel to Finland from there," THL lead specialist Jari Jalava said in a statement.

During border checks, travellers arriving from Russia are provided with guidelines about how to reduce the risk of infections in Finland. The recommendations, which were drawn up by THL and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, call on arrivals from risk countries to voluntarily quarantine for 14 days.

Currently about one dozen buses enter Finland from Russia and border crossing points in the southeast every week, mainly at Vaalimaa and Nuijamaa. An estimated 10 buses cross the border at Vaalimaa, while three to five enter the country through Nuijamaa.

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