HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland cut the length of its COVID quarantine from 10 days to five for most cases, its public health authority said on Thursday.
It will still be possible for doctors to order a longer quarantine period of up to 10 days if need be, it said.
With the Omicron variant, “the progress of infection development has speeded up and therefore the quarantine length of ten days is no longer justifiable the way it was before,” public health authority THL’s chief physician Otto Helve told reporters.
Finland reported 53,600 new COVID cases over a week, up by more than 27% from the week before, but authorities said the numbers were no longer reliable due to lack of testing capacity caused by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the country. The country’s total death toll from the pandemic is more than 1,700.
The need for intensive care had remained stable, THL said, while the number of hospilised patients has doubled to 690 over two weeks.
This week, local authorities began to rebel against the government’s test and trace strategy, saying it was impossible to implement amid rising case numbers.
Finland’s government was due to meet on Thursday to discuss whether or not all restaurants in the country were to be ordered to close completely.
At the moment, alcohol sales at restaurants ends at 5 p.m. and all restaurants must close at 6 p.m.
The public health authority was cautiously hopeful that the Omicron peak could curb within a month or so.
“In the other Nordics there is an idea that it could take a few weeks and for us (in Finland) maybe a little longer,” Helve said.
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Angus MacSwan)