Finns have taken precautions against spreading Covid seriously. We have listened to and obeyed the recommendations of the government and the central health authorities. We have one of the lowest infection and death rates as well as a reasonably good economic performance. Lockdowns have been very rare here this last year.
Not only have we done well to have low infection rates, we have also seen higher and faster vaccination rates. The above photo was taken during week 24, in Helsinki, where some 300 people were vaccinated each hour.
However, we have now seen a serious error of judgement by local officials on the Finnish Russian border at one of the border control posts.
Finnish football fans went in their thousands to watch the European Football Championships in St. Petersburg. Most of them went in charter buses with negative test certificates, and official ticket documents for the games. There are just a few border crossings between Russia and Finland and the buses generally use the same ones for departure and return. It should not have been difficult for the health authorities and the border guards to estimate the expected number of fans who would be returning within a few days.
Health officials are needed for testing fans arriving from Russia, and border guards are needed to check identities of passengers and drivers.
However, these same officials were surprised by the surge of returning fans and were not prepared. Their lack of readiness was nothing more than scandalous because hundreds of buses started to form a logjam because there were not enough trained nurses and assistants to complete the tests in time before the border was closed at 22:00h. The result was that the local health authorities decided to make a momentously stupid decision to allow thousands of fans to cross the border without being tested at closing time.
The Delta Indian Covid variant has spreading fast in Russia and it is obvious that the criminal failure to test these fans was an open invitation for this virulent virus to spread in Finland!
It is already clear that many of the young fans did not go into voluntary quarantine. It appears that many of the many are presumably out there celebrating at midsummer parties along with their mates. The result will be a fast uptick in the case load and more restrictions of the freedom of movement.
Up to now, Finns have been careful about not spreading the virus, but this lapse of control is a serious violation of the recommendations set by the government. The people in the local government health authorities who were responsible for this decision to allow thousands of returning passengers to re-enter the country at Vaalimaa Border Post, without Covid testing, should face the consequences of their actions.