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Helsinki: Covid testing trial on Tallinn ships to continue

Just over 10 percent of around 5,700 passengers agreed to be tested on the ferries over the weekend.

Koronatestinäytteitä putkissa.
Coronavirus test vials, file photo. Image: Sami Takkinen / Yle

The City of Helsinki plans to continue offering voluntary coronavirus testing of passengers aboard ferries to and from Tallinn, Estonia during peak travel times next weekend.

Last weekend the city offered the free tests but few passengers seemed to be interested, according to Helsinki's director of health services Leena Turpeinen.

Approximately 10.6 percent of the roughly 5,700 passengers agreed to be tested as they sailed between the capital cities during 12 separate cruises on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Turpeinen said that no passengers who volunteered to be tested were found to have coronavirus infections on Friday, but that one test administered on Saturday turned out positive. Information about Sunday's test results were not available.

The city has already decided to continue testing passengers coming from Tallinn on this coming Friday and Sunday, but not on Saturday.

"Testing will be carried out on days when commuting levels are at their peak," Turpeinen said.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin's government is scheduled to discuss possible restrictions and rules regarding Finland's borders, potentially including mandatory coronavirus testing of arrivals at the country's border crossings.

If testing of all arrivals does become mandatory, Turpeinen said that officials would need to examine the logistics of such a major undertaking, including staffing levels and other practical matters.

"It would [also] involve thinking about how facilities on the ships would be suitable for testing," she said.

Over last weekend, the testing effort was handled by three city health counsellors and two lab technicians aboard the ship and four other city workers on the mainland who were responsible for recording data.

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