Helsinki opening a health guidance point at the West Harbour

The City of Helsinki opened its first health guidance point for ship passengers at terminal 2 of the West Harbour tomorrow on Monday 17 August. Similar health guidance points will also be opened at the Olympic Terminal and the Katajanokka Terminal in the near future.

The health guidance points will offer ship passengers information on coronavirus prevention and refer passengers with symptoms indicative of COVID-19 to get tested. The health guidance points will not carry out coronavirus testing, at least for the time being, but will instead direct passengers to other testing stations in Helsinki, if necessary.

The aim is to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 coronavirus infections contracted on ships and ensure passenger safety.

Voluntary coronavirus test offered to passengers 

Today, on Sunday, some of the passengers arriving at Vuosaari Harbour from Germany were offered the opportunity to undergo a voluntary coronavirus test. Health guidance was provided by the City of Helsinki, while the actual testing was carried out by HUSLAB. 

The test was offered to a total of 127 passengers travelling in 65 cars, of whom 46 passengers took up the offer. The total number of vehicles arriving in Helsinki on the ship in question was 116. The test was offered to passengers in connection with normal customs checks. 

“The health guidance and testing went well in Vuosaari. We will be utilising the lessons learned here as we expand our coronavirus health guidance and potentially testing as well at harbours,” says Director of Health and Substance Abuse Services Leena Turpeinen

“We do not yet know whether any of the passengers tested today were infected with the coronavirus. We will announce the test results as soon as they are ready,” Turpeinen continues. 

Health guidance points being built as a collaborative effort 

The operating model for the health guidance points has been prepared collaboratively between the Port of Helsinki, shipping companies, the Finnish Border Guard, Finnish Customs, HUS, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, among other parties 

“The service has been implemented on an accelerated schedule. The aim is to find the most effective means of preventing the spread of infections via passenger ship traffic in a way that utilises the limited resources of the social and health care sector as wisely as possible,” Turpeinen says. 

At present, Helsinki’s harbours record approximately 10,000–15,000 arriving passengers per day, which is approximately half of the passenger volume recorded in 2019 during the same period.

Port of Helsinki

Photo: Antti Pulkkinen