Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin responds to journalists on Wednesday outside Parliament in Helsinki.MARKKU ULANDER (AFP)
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has stirred up a political storm in the Nordic country. The 36-year-old social democrat apologized on Wednesday after various local media published that the president went out to party last weekend, hours after her foreign minister, environmentalist Pekka Haavisto, has tested positive for covid-19. Marin explained to several reporters in Parliament that, while in a nightclub, he received two texts recommending that he isolate himself, but did not see them until the next day because he had left his work cell phone at the House.
“I should have had better judgment. I’m really sorry I didn’t understand that I should have isolated myself, “Marin apologized, according to Finnish public radio and television (Yle). The head of government met Haavisto last Friday. On Saturday evening, he visited a nightclub in central Helsinki after learning that the foreign minister had tested positive. The prime minister explained that before leaving, his state secretary, Henrik Haapajärvi, the had informed that she should not be quarantined or take any special measures, as she had been fully vaccinated for months. However, soon after, he received two text messages from the Ministry of Health advising him to avoid so much as possible to interact with people. Finnish authorities only impose a mandatory quarantine citizens who do not yet have the complete vaccination schedule and who have close contact with a person who has tested positive.
A few witnesses cited by the Finnish magazine Seiska point out that Marin arrived at the nightclub on Saturday evening and danced until four in the morning on Sunday. The Social Democrat assured at a press conference that when she saw the messages on the phone in the morning, she immediately went for a test, during which she was negative.
Several members of the opposition criticized Marin, who became the youngest woman in the world at the head of a government in December 2019. MP Mia Laiho (National Coalition Party, center-right), spokesperson for the committee social affairs and health, on Monday described the action of the president of “absolutely irresponsible”, according to the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
Finland (five million inhabitants) is one of the European countries that has suffered the least from the coronavirus pandemic. The Nordic state has recorded nearly 200,000 infections and 1,384 deaths from covid-19, placing it as the third country on the continent with the fewest deaths per capita (behind Iceland and Norway). However, with almost 75% of the population fully vaccinated, there has been an upsurge in infections in recent weeks, with more than 1,000 positives per day, figures that had not been achieved in Finland during the entire health crisis.
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