Winter holiday is approaching and thousands of people in Finland will take a few days off and plan to travel.
The situation regarding the novel coronavirus epidemic and its worldwide expansion is worrying. So much so that the Finnish Government has just included the COVID-19 (as it has been renamed) in its list of generally hazardous communicable diseases. Finnair has cancelled its flights to mainland China and authorities have issued a series of recommendations to be followed when traveling.
The World Health Organization (WHO) currently does not recommend any commercial or travel restrictions. Despite that, the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) emphasized on 12 February in a release that "the Ministry for Foreign Affairs recommends avoiding all travel to Hubei province and unnecessary travel to mainland China."
According to THL's last update, approximately 64,400 infections of the new coronavirus have been diagnosed, 99% of them in the epidemic area in mainland China.
In other countries, more than 500 cases have been reported, with a large proportion related to staying in the epidemic area.
"The number of cases is expected to rise particularly in China, and there is a risk that the epidemic will spread to other countries as well," THL says.
Information for travelers
THL recommends travelers to follow the situation updates on its website and on the Ministry for Foreign Affairs website.
“Outside the epidemic area, the risk of a single traveler on holiday being infected with the coronavirus is currently low. It may be difficult to understand your personal risk of getting infected on holiday as different sources are trying to assess whether the epidemic will spread to other countries in the future,” says Chief Physician Taneli Puumalainen.
However, the risk of infection has increased in mainland China and especially in the Hubei province. Measures to combat the epidemic can also affect travel arrangements and the services available, especially in Asian countries.
“The epidemic caused by the new coronavirus can be a source of concern and uncertainty for many Finns. A rapidly changing situation and information coming from various sources may also make it difficult to prepare travel plans. I recommend that you follow communications prepared by public authorities”, says Puumalainen.
"It is recommended that you submit a travel notification for all international trips," THL says also in its website.
THL is monitoring and assessing the situation together with the European Centre for Disease Prevention (ECDC) and WHO.