The Finnish parliament approved on Friday, at the proposal of the government, several amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act, which will make it possible to oblige people to undergo medical examinations, including a Covid-19 test, upon arrival in the country.
The amendments affect two sections -16 and 22- of the Communicable Diseases Act.
The amendment to section 16 specifies the right of the Regional Administrative agencies and physicians in charge of communicable diseases in the municipality or hospital districts to order compulsory health examinations. The amendment to section 22 establishes the obligation of those who have been exposed to a communicable disease to provide information about themselves.
Until now, in Finland health checks and tests for Covid-19 have been voluntary. And many people have refused to get tested.
From Monday 22 February, those who refuse to undergo a compulsory health examination they could, under chapter 44 section 2 of the Penal Code, be sentenced for a health protection violation to a fine or imprisonment for at most three months.
"Now we have more tools to fight the disease," said Krista Kiuru, minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, after the approval.
"The amendment would clarify the current regulation on compulsory health examinations and strengthen and speed up the work in preventing communicable diseases," the Ministry of Social Affairs and health said in a press release.
Obligated to inform
Participating in a health examination will be compulsory for example at airports for people who arrive in Finland from specific countries during a specific time period or work in specific workplaces, if required by government health officials.
People who have, are exposed to or are justifiably suspected of having a generally hazardous or monitored communicable disease would be also obligated to provide the healthcare professionals investigating the matter with information about themselves.
Until now, the provision of information was voluntary.
Under the amended Act, the authorities can introduce also regional restrictions and close businesses, leisure activities and other facilities when they consider it necessary to prevent the spread of the epidemic.
The amendments will go into effect on Monday and last until 30 June 2021.
The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 52,653 Covid-19 infections and 726 deaths since the pandemic started.