Dozens of covid-19 infections found amongst berry pickers from Thailand working in Lapland

File photo of berry pickers. Mikko Savolainen / Yle

Last week an outbreak of covid-19 was discovered amongst 44 berry pickers from Thailand working at a plant in Kainuu region of Finland and this week another 40 Thai berry pickers have been found infected with covid-19, this time in Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region.

Local media YLE reports that following the outbreak in the Kainuu region, Lapland Hospital District mass tested 110 seasonal workers and found almost a third infected with covid-19.

According to Markku Broas, Chief Physician of Infectious Diseases of the Lapland Hospital District (LSHP), this case proves that no system is completely effective because the Thai workers had been tested as required by regulations when they entered Finland and on the third day after arriving in the country.

“Even if the test is done on the third day, the virus can appear and become contagious later. It has apparently happened here that the infection has come after the third day,” he said.

Markku Broas pointed out that because the workers from Thailand are working as berry pickers which means that they live and work together in small groups, the virus is easily transmitted between the workers. “Especially in the case of the Delta virus variant, this is the situation,” he said.

Lapland will continue its mass testing and around 250 berry pickers are scheduled to be tested on Friday and over the weekend. “We also go through with the companies very carefully about what their isolation and quarantine practices are. So far, the companies have done a good job in terms of safety. Preliminary testing has been done and bubble practices have been pursued,” Markku Broas said. 

The infected berry pickers have been isolated and are not currently working. Quarantined workers are tested every two days.

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