Finland’s Health Officials Sees Spike In Virus Cases From Returning Soccer Fans

HELSINKI — Finland’s health officials have discovered an increase in coronavirus infections linked to soccer fans returning from the European Championships in St. Petersburg in neighbouring Russia.

“All passengers who have gone from St. Petersburg to Finland by any bus company should apply for a coronavirus test,” the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said on Saturday.

According to the institution, “any bus or minibus might have been exposed.”

Finland faced Russia on June 16 and Belgium on Monday in St. Petersburg for two Euro 2020 group games. It is anticipated that at least 2,000 Finns travelled to the city for the matches.

The Finns were eliminated after finishing third in their group. After finishing last, Russia was also eliminated.

In the tournament’s group stage, St. Petersburg hosted six games and will host one of the four quarterfinal matches on Friday.

Last week, authorities in the Russian city strengthened anti-coronavirus measures in an attempt to reduce the number of new cases. This includes the closure of food courts in retail malls and the city’s Euro 2020 fan zone.

Mika Salminen, the head of the Finnish health institute, said public radio YLE that more than 120 virus cases had been discovered in passengers returning from St. Petersburg, primarily soccer enthusiasts and that the number is expected to rise.

Despite the fact that the Finnish Border Guard had anticipated heavy traffic returning from St. Petersburg, the key Vaalimaa border station was severely congested on Tuesday, with lines of dozens of buses carrying soccer fans and hundreds of cars waiting for the required coronavirus test after border formalities.

As the line grew longer and the border station was about to close, Finnish officials decided to let travellers into the country without testing on the condition that they would take one once they were in their home region.

Some of the illnesses were connected to a German beer hall-style restaurant in St. Petersburg, according to Finnish health officials earlier this week.

There are two primary crossing sites between the nations in eastern Finland, making the journey from the border to St. Petersburg between 180-220 kilometres (112-135 miles).

The population of the Russian metropolis, which exceeds 5 million people, is roughly equivalent to the whole population of Finland.

According to the most recent data from Russia’s national coronavirus taskforce, 8,457 new infection cases were discovered in Moscow and 1,247 in St. Petersburg in the last few days.

With slightly under 95,000 cases and 969 fatalities reported since the start of the epidemic, Finland is one of the least afflicted European countries. Since March 2020, the 1,340-kilometer (832-mile) long Finnish-Russian land border has been blocked to passenger traffic from both sides, with a few exceptions, including as travel to Euro 2020 matches.

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