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Majority of Covid-positive Skopje arrivals tested negative before departure

The results from passengers aboard a flight last week are an indication of the problems with country of origin testing.

Turun lentoasemalla valmistaudutaan ottamaan vastaan Skopjesta saapuvia matkustajia.
Healthcare personnel preparing to test passengers on a flight from Skopje at Turku Airport in August. Image: Mika Puska

Five out of seven passengers on a flight last week from Skopje, North Macedonia, to Turku who tested positive for the coronavirus when they arrived had a negative test result before departure.

The results are now being seen as an indication of the problems involved in country of origin testing. One major issue is variation in the types of tests used, not all of which are considered as accurate as those performed in Finland.

Jane Marttila, an infectious disease physician for the the City of Turku, says that only two of the passengers who have received a positive test result were not tested before travelling.

“Based on the screening of a previous Skopje plane, there are situations in which a passenger has had a negative test result, but was still positive in our test,” Marttila says.

Testing scheme delayed

Legislation under consideration in Finland on country-of-origin testing contains a requirement for a new test 72 hours after arrival. Passengers would then self-quarantine until the second test results are finalised.

However, the government's bill on a dual testing scheme for travelers is now again under review after it was rejected for a floor vote by Parliament's Constitution Committee on Thursday. The government will have to consider whether to present a new bill or revise the terms of its current proposal.

There has been growing pressure to require country of origin testing, especially in Turku, where a total of around 70 infected passengers have been detected on flights from Skopje so far.

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