Finnish authorities concerned about COVID-19 risks among foreign workers

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HELSINKI, June 30 (Xinhua) — Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Tuesday urged the construction industry to make sure infection protection norms are adhered to, as clusters of COVID-19 infections have been detected among foreign workers, especially in the construction sector, living in often crowded conditions.

Professor Hannu Kiviranta of THL said in a media release that proper hygiene and safety distances must be ensured in accommodation of the foreign workers.

Matti Harjuniemi, chairman of the Finnish Construction Trade Union, told national broadcaster Yle Tuesday that the 14-day voluntary quarantine for foreign arrivals have not been applied in all cases. He noted the infection risk level for foreign workers is high.

“In Helsinki recently ten foreign men lived in a small space and shared the toilet and kitchen,” said Harjuniemi. According to Yle, some 20,000 of the 100,000 employees of the construction industry are foreign migrant workers.

However, Eerik Tarnaala, work safety director at the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland, told newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that work safety inspectors have no right to monitor housing facilities, even if they have been arranged by the employer.

“The health impact of dwellings can only be checked by municipal authorities,” he said.

According to THL, as of Tuesday afternoon, Finland has confirmed a total of 7,214 infections with COVID-19. The death toll reached 328, and about 6,600 people were estimated to have recovered.

In another development, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that Finland provided 2 million euros to Iraq to support its work to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund will be channeled through the Funding Facility for Stabilization of Iraq, managed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), said the ministry in a press release.

It will be directed especially to strengthen the operations of hospitals and health centers that receive COVID-19 patients in Iraq. The fund will also be used to provide protective equipment for nursing staff, increase the number of wards used to quarantine patients and enhance laboratory testing capacity, according to the ministry. Enditem

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