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Port of Turku begins corona testing, passengers from Sweden to be sent to health checkpoints

Other arrivals will be sent to checkpoints and tested if they exhibit apparent symptoms.

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The port of Turku is mainland Finland's closest to coronavirus-hit Sweden. Image: Robert Seger / Turun satama

The city of Turku will begin coronavirus testing at its passenger ferry harbour next week on a trial basis. Passengers arriving from Sweden will be directed to health checkpoints, where they may be tested. Other arrivals will be sent to the checkpoints and tested if they exhibit apparent symptoms.

The southwestern port city is partnering with shipping lines for the pilot project.

It will be launched on Monday evening 7 September when a Viking Line ship docks and will continue the following evening with passengers on a Tallink Silja ship.

"The health points will offer the opportunity for corona testing, but will also advise people about self-imposed quarantine," says Jane Marttila, the city of Turku’s chief physician in charge of infectious disease.

Two health advice points are being set up at the harbour, to which arrivals will be directed after border checks. One point will be placed to process passengers disembarking from passenger ferries’ car decks while the other is intended for passengers leaving through the terminal.

With strict travel restrictions still in place due to Sweden’s much higher Covid-19 rate, there are not usually many passengers arriving from Sweden on ships coming into Turku, mostly via or from the autonomous Åland Islands.

Only 40-50 passengers per evening

On average there are only 40-50 people from Sweden on each evening-arrival passenger ship, with just over half of them disembarking via the vehicle deck, including lorry drivers.

The shipping lines have made arrangements so that passengers originating in Sweden can be identified on arrival, says Marttila.

After the first two evenings, officials will evaluate the system before deciding how to move forward.

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