Finnish airports preparing to face coronavirus
In Finland, the Finnish national authority Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is responsible for instructions, monitoring and possible measures to be taken at airports in the event of an epidemic of coronavirus. THL assesses when a situation calls for passenger checks to be started, how the checks are carried out and who is checked.
But how prepared are they in Finland to face a threat of epidemic?
The main airport operator of Finland (Finavia) reported today in a press release that they have not yet received specific instructions from the health authorities to take action. However, the staff is ready to act if necessary. On Wednesday, THL admitted that it is "possible" that the illness reaches Finland due to tourism and international travel.
−"We monitor the situation closely now and are in constant contact with the health authority. We are well prepared to take any measures necessary when needed," says Heini Noronen-Juhola, VP of the Finnish airport company Finavia at Helsinki Airport.
For the time being, THL has not issued instructions to take any special measures. Nor has the World Health Organization WHO recommended any special measures for travellers or restrictions of travel or international trade.
17 dead so far
So far, approximately 600 cases of coronavirus infections have been diagnosed and 17 people have died. Most of those cases have been detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, with eleven million inhabitants. And Finavia emphasized there is no direct flight to Finland from Wuhan City.
However, cases of the disease have already been found in other territories of China, including Beijing, Guangdong, Macao and Hong Kong. And the authorities of the Asian country decided on Thursday to extend to other two cities the quarantine imposed on Wuhan.
Altogether there are nine direct flights from China to Helsinki Airport operated by Finnair, Juneyao Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines.
According to Finnair, in the event of a suspected infection during a flight, the staff on board shall make some arrangements in order to protect themselves and the rest of the passengers.
A traveler suspected of having a coronavirus infection must remain seated as far away as possible from other passengers and will be asked to wear some protective equipment. The number of cabin crew members dealing with the ill person will be reduced and properly protected.