Finnish Government Hybrid Approach and Covid-19 breath test to try to boost the economy

Finland is taking a "hybrid" approach to the pandemic in the latest moves to try to curb the spread but also kickstart the economy.

The reaction to the pandemic from Finland

Generally speaking the government in Finland has handled the crisis extremely well. There have still been fewer than 10,000 cases in the country, with 339 deaths and 3 critical cases at the time of writing. I sympathise with anyone who has lost loved ones due to this virus and am not making light of that, however when I compare the Finnish government reaction to that of the US, or the UK I am very happy I live here.  

At the start of the crisis (in Finland around mid March) the government asked the Finns to self isolate. Soon after that the bars and public areas were closed and the country went quiet. This lasted till around mid May, when restrictions started to ease and on June 1st the restaurants opened with restricted rules. If the public places are open for business this to me is a signal that the country is starting to get a handle on things, unless of course you live in the USA, whose government doesn't seem to care about its voting public. 

Open for business

Since June 1st life in the capital has slowly returned to normal, lots more sanitisation, lots of social distancing, but that aside everything is more or less open. It seems as well that the death toll from cases is reducing even if the cases are rising. The proportion of cases to population in Finland is 10 per every 100,000 people. The worry is this is rising, as things have opened up, a few weeks ago this was 6 per 100,000 people. That said the death tolls are not anywhere near as serious and hospitals are not full of victims. There were 3 people reported at the time of writing. 

The hybrid approach

The hybrid approach will make it possible to ease restrictions on entry to the country while also tackling the pandemic at the border controls. The government is looking at the statistics and making a common sense bet from the 19th September onwards. Any country with less than 25/100000 cases can be travelled to or from without restriction. This is monitored and changed as the situations change.

Then for any other country (this is from the 23rd November) anyone with a negative test 72 hours or less than arrival to Finland would be allowed in without restriction. Practically this means people travelling to Finland will be required to take a test upon entry. Something Finland may do with a simple "breath test" being developed by Forum Virium Helsinki which shows an instant result and costs €2. If not, then the current method. Either way upon arrival to Finland you get a test, you self quarantine till you get the result and then if it's negative there is no problem. 

People arriving for less than 3 days won't be required to take a test or quarantine (which means business travel can resume).  

Common sense

The approach is to me a common sense thing to try. We cannot lock down forever. A vaccine is the only long term solution to the problem and this may take another year to be fully tested and distributed if it becomes available this year. We still don't know whether any vaccine will work permanently, whether it will require boosters or whether it can even be developed at all. There are good noises coming out of  Oxford University, however till that's proven and scaled we are in a state of limbo.

This hybrid approach allows the Finnish tourism sector to prepare for their winter season normally in the hope that foreign tourists can return. This in turn starts powering the economy in other ways. 

Critics may say that the government is putting the economy over health concerns. Ordinarily I would agree, but we're not living in ordinary times. The world needs to wake up to the fact that this may be here forever, like Malaria or other killer diseases and we need to adapt to and overcome the problem with practical solutions. To me the Finnish government is doing a good thing here trying this out. 

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