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Minister: Conscripts could sleep outdoors if Covid situation worsens

Last month saw an uptick in Covid cases among conscripts, but there has not yet been a need to introduce such measures.

Puolustusministeri Antti Kaikkonen saapui Säätytalolle Helsingissä 22. tammikuuta.
Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen in a file photo taken on 22 January. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Healthy soldiers-in-training could sleep outdoors if the coronavirus situation at a Defence Forces barracks were to become particularly bad, Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen (Cen.) has said.

Last month a military epidemiologist called the trend of infections among armed forces personnel "alarming., while on tuesday it was reported that at least 49 conscripts in Hamina had confirmed Covid infections.

In an interview on Yle Radio 1's breakfast showYkkösaamu on Tuesday, Kaikkonen said that while the situation was currently under control, there were contingency plans in place.

"If the coronavirus situation at a garrison were to become particularly serious, the barracks could be used to house those infected or exposed, then of course healthy conscripts could be increasingly accommodated in the field," he said.

However, such measures have not been deemed necessary so far. Conscript garrisons have been divided into three groups to reduce the number of contacts. In practice, this means that one group lives in the barracks, while another is out in the field and the third group is on leave.

The coronavirus pandemic has not only affected the daily lives of conscripts, but also how the Defence Forces plan to arrange call-ups.

According to Kaikkonen, a proposal that would enable the armed forces to carry out conscript call-up interviews remotely was recently sent to Parliament.

If the proposal is approved, remotely-conducted call-ups could begin by the start of next year.

Remote interviews could take place in situations like the current coronavirus pandemic or other similar crises, Kaikkonen said.

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