Coronavirus: Travellers to Iceland to be tested twice post August 19, Finland returns…

Coronavirus: Travellers to Iceland to be tested twice post August 19, Finland returns…

Home / Travel / Coronavirus: Travellers to Iceland to be tested twice post August 19, Finland returns travel restrictions for several countries

                    Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced during a press conference that from Wednesday, August 19 onwards every person arriving in Iceland will be tested twice for the virus. First they will get tested for the coronavirus at the border, they will then be required to spend four to five days in quarantine, and subsequently be tested for the virus again. 

This decision has come after several new domestic coronavirus cases were confirmed, almost every day, since July 23 in Iceland, and elsewhere too. According to Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, this is the most effective way to contain the spread of the pandemic in the country.

The Government of Icelands website elaborated, “Passengers arriving in Iceland on and after 19 August 2020 may choose either to submit to two screening tests for COVID-19, separated by five days’ quarantine until the results of the second test are known, or else not to undergo border screening but instead to spend 14 days in quarantine after arrival. The ministerial regulation announcing this takes effect as from midnight on 18 August. The requirement regarding quarantine and/or testing applies to all people who have spent more than 24 hours during the past 14 days in locations that are defined as potential infection risk areas; at present, this means all countries. Children born in or after 2005 are exempt from the screening and quarantine requirements, and the same exemption applies to persons who have been certified by the Icelandic health authorities, following a PCR test, as having previously been infected with COVID-19 and have completed a period of isolation, or if they have been shown by antibody measurements to have recovered from COVID-19. Transit passengers who do not leave the terminal facilities at the border are not required to undergo screening or quarantine.”

Travel Restrictions in Finland

On the other hand, Finland said on Wednesday it will bring back travel restrictions for several countries which it had for months considered safe destinations, including Germany and its Nordic neighbours, to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Travelling from Iceland, Greece, Malta, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Cyprus, San Marino and Japan to Finland will be limited to essential trips starting August 24, with people returning from those countries required to self-quarantine for two weeks, Minister of Interior Maria Ohisalo said.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, Finland had already restricted travelling to and from most other countries around the globe.

In June, Finland’s government set a maximum of eight to 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over two weeks for countries to be considered safe destinations.

Gradually, it has been removing countries from its list of safe destinations as a second wave of infections has crept from one country to another.

“Our strong message is that travelling to risky countries should be avoided. Returning to Finland from them will lead to quarantine and trouble,” Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka told reporters.

Finland’s own 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants stood at 5.2 on Tuesday, among the lowest rates in Europe, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

But the number of cases has been on the rise in recent weeks, with health authorities counting a total of 7,776 cases and 334 deaths in Finland and a rise of 24 new cases and one death on Tuesday.

Harakka said 43 cases had been detected on travellers arriving on three different Wizz Air flights from Skopje in North Macedonia to Turku in Finland recently and authorities were looking into ways of cancelling the connection.

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