Passengers getting onboard a ferry at West Harbour.

600 passengers take the coronavirus test on ferries from Estonia

On 15–17 January, Helsinki offered all passengers on 12 ferries the opportunity to take a free coronavirus test. The ferries carried about 5,700 passengers from Estonia to Helsinki. Of these passengers, 600 got tested, which is slightly more than 10 per cent.

Seven of the tests were positive. This is 1.2 per cent of all the tests (information added 21.1).

The aim at the moment is for as many inbound ferry passengers as possible to take the voluntary coronavirus test. This is of paramount importance in terms of preventing the spread of the epidemic and new virus variants.

“We decided to offer guidance and testing opportunities aboard ferries because there we can reach passengers more effectively than in terminals”, Director of Health and Substance Abuse Services Leena Turpeinen

“The experiences gained over the past weekend were encouraging. The onboard testing arrangements will be resumed next Friday and Sunday when there will be more commuters on the ferries. We will be further developing the guidance and testing services for ferry passengers, in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus across Finland’s maritime borders as effectively as possible. We will also be actively engaging in the preparation of national-level policies and operating models.”     

Among those tested over the weekend, 30 presented symptoms indicative of COVID-19. “We would like to remind everyone to refrain from travelling in the event of even the most minor symptoms suggesting a coronavirus infection and instead to get tested without leaving the country,” Leena Turpeinen adds. 

The voluntary testing arrangements aboard ferries are an element in the preparations for the possible eventuality of Finland deciding to require all passengers to be tested. Since August, Helsinki has been offering coronavirus guidance at the terminals of passengers ports. Low-threshold referrals to coronavirus tests have also been provided in the same context.

Helsinki has organised the coronavirus guidance and test opportunities in ports and onboard ferries in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Customs and shipping companies.

More information

Photos: Helsinki City material bank / Antti Pulkkinen

The news was updated 21.1. The number of positive tests was added to the text.