Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) on Saturday said Finland would be among the first countries to access a Covid vaccine.
Kiuru told Yle's Ykkösaamu talk show she didn’t believe Finland would be completely rid of the virus by Midsummer, though she said recent vaccine news was promising.
"We’ll be among the first [countries] to get the vaccine. We’ll start as soon as it’s possible, but experts need to evaluate what types of risks we’re willing to take," Kiuru explained.
"Measures need to be effective"
The minister said the recent uptick in infections in the capital region was alarming.
"If there’s a thousand infections a week in Uusimaa, then Finland can’t afford to continue managing the epidemic this way," Kiuru said, adding she was pleased by stricter measures announced in the capital region on Friday.
As of Monday 23 November, participants at indoor public events will be limited to 20 people in the Helsinki metropolitan area, following Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori’s (NCP) announcement on Friday.
Kiuru, however, said she didn’t believe it was necessary for the state to impose emergency measures as it did during the spring.
PM Sanna Marin (SDP) and Kiuru have meanwhile indicated that restaurants and eateries could expect further curbs on opening hours to contain the virus.
"It’s clear that we can’t just allow infection numbers to keep rising," Kiuru told Yle.
She said it was important that Uusimaa regional authorities manage the situation, without the government rushing to step in. The minister pointed to successful regional efforts to stifle infection clusters in Kainuu, South Savo and Vaasa.
Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is currently preparing new rules for testing all arriving passengers at Helsinki Airport. Cities in the capital area have criticised the move as too burdensome as it would drain healthcare personnel.
Kiuru acknowledged the criticism, saying the region didn’t have an overabundance of healthcare workers. She said the point was to prevent the virus from crossing into Finland.
"Testing is a way to ensure that the virus stops at the border and that people arrive safely in the country."
At the moment testing is done sporadically at Finland's largest airport.
Any decisions regarding mandatory airport testing will ultimately be decided by lawmakers, according to Kiuru.