Finland allocates €8.9 million to prepare for Covid-19 epidemic

Officials say they've got enough supplies of protective equipment to distribute to 400,000 healthcare professionals.

Health Minister Aino-Kaisa Pekonen (Left) with PM and other ministers at coronavirus briefing, Helsinki, 27th Feb 2020 / Credit: Laura Kotila, VNK

The Finnish government is allocating €8.9 million towards its readiness plans to fight the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.

So far only two people in Finland have had positive diagnosis for the virus, but with more cases cropping up in Europe – including neighbouring Estonia and Sweden – there’s a sense of inevitability from healthcare professionals in Finland that more confirmed cases will be detected here as well.

The Ministry of Health, under Minister Aino-Kaisa Pekonen (Left) is coordinating a special task force comprising officials from different ministries and other experts.

Pekonen says the country’s healthcare professional are prepared, and the system is ready for an influx of cases – and although the risk of infection is small, Pekonen says the main focus is on preventing or limiting the spread of the virus in Finland.

“If the situation turns into an epidemic, we’ll move on to trying to control the situation” she told journalists at a Thursday briefing, alongside Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP), Interior Minister Katri Kulmuni (Centre) and Family and Social Services Minister Krista Kiuru (SDP).

Earlier this week Minister Pekonen took to Twitter to encourage people to fight the spread of bacteria through frequent hand-washing, and said “it’s good to avoid shaking hands.”

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health Kirsi Varhila said that Finland could equip 400,000 healthcare workers with protective gear including respirators, visors, surgical aprons and disposable gloves if the coronavirus spreads.