Thursday 12/3/20

Covid-19 information sent to households only in Finnish and Swedish

The Ministry of Health says they intend to deliver reliable information also to "those in Finland who do not search online or follow news broadcasts." But a few lines below, people of foreign origin are simply told to visit THL's website and read there the instructions.

Mailboxes on a Finnish street. Photo:
Mailboxes on a Finnish street. Photo:

In the midst of the public emergency caused by the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health announced on Friday that nationwide distribution of letters with basic information on coronavirus (koronavirus, in Finnish) has begun.

According to a press release, this letter should reach "every household in Finland by 9 April 2020 at the latest." The purpose of the letter is to "provide every citizen with information on coronavirus and ways to avoid getting the virus."

“By sending a letter to every household, we can provide reliable information on coronavirus and ways to prevent its spread. It also reaches those in Finland who do not search information online or follow news broadcasts,” says Riikka Nurmi, Director of Communications.

Serious health emergency

The message will surely reach the homes physically, but that objective that everybody will receive the necessary information is doubtful if it will be achieved. The reason is that, according to the Ministry's press release, "the letter provides the same information both in Finnish and Swedish." 

Also in the Sámi region, the instructions will be given in Sámi.

But not in English or in Arabic, Russian, Somali or in any of the other languages ​​spoken by the almost half a million people of foreign origin in the country (including permanent residents, students, transit persons and people who recently acquired Finnish citizenship).

In times of a serious health emergency, the recommendation for foreigners is to visit the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and find there the instructions.

"In addition to Finnish and Swedish, the information package will be available in 16 different languages on the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare ( The website will also provide access to a video in the Finnish and the Finnish-Swedish sign languages," the release says a few lines below.

The information pack

According to the Ministry, the package consists of a covering letter and three sets of instructions:

  • Protect yourself and others from infection.
  • If you get infected or are at home taking care of a person who has contracted coronavirus.
  • Advice for people over 70 years of age.

“Although there is a lot of talk about coronavirus, the need for reliable information is on the increase. In the letter, we explain how you can protect yourself from getting coronavirus and how to act in case you get infected. In addition, the letter includes advice for people over 70 years of age because for them getting coronavirus may be a bigger risk," Riikka Nurmi says.