HELSINKI, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The Finnish government on Thursday recommended at a press conference that all public events exceeding 500 participants should be cancelled to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin also announced that a supplementary budget could be given at a short notice to alleviate the financial impact of the epidemic.
On Thursday the number of COVID-19 cases in Finland has exceeded 100. The Finnish Foreign Ministry gave a travel advisory in the same day suggesting that all travel abroad should be avoided. However, the state cannot prohibit citizens from leaving the country.
Wider measures in Finland would require the use of the Emergency Powers Act intended for crisis situations. Any national decrees to close schools, early education facilities or shopping malls would require the emergency powers. Also closing the wide passenger boat services between Finland and its Baltic neighbours could only be done that way.
Minister for Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen estimated on Thursday that Finland would be now becoming part of the epidemic. "The epidemic can no longer be blocked, but its progress can be slowed down," she said.
Krista Kiuru, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, said that work to trace the person-to-person infection chains has still worked in Finland. "At this stage we still do all the protective and limitation measures that are feasible," she said.
A meeting with all political parties would be arranged later on Thursday to discuss a possible future need to use the Emergency Powers Act that would enhance powers of the government on everyday life. Prime Minister Marin underlined that there was no immediate need for special powers, but the situation could arise later.
Talking about the cessation of air travel between the Schengen area and the United States, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari said that the U.S. travel ban on mainland Europe "gives rise to speculation", considering the fact that the UK has been left outside the ban. He noted that it is clear that Britain is not "immune to the coronavirus".
Finnish business representatives have said to local media that travel to the U.S. had been restricted already, and the total ban would be a real nuisance.