Amendments to Communicable Diseases Act concerning compulsory health examinations enter into force
The latest amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act will clarify the current regulation on compulsory health examinations. In future, people who have or have been exposed to a communicable disease must provide the health authorities with information about themselves. The amendments to the Act that will enter into force on 29 March 2021 will also improve the possibilities of the Border Guard to provide executive assistance. The President of the Republic is to approve the amendments on 26 March.
The amendments will also strengthen and speed up the authorities’ work in preventing communicable diseases and tracing transmission chains. The amendments concern section 16 (compulsory health examination), section 22 (provision of information) and section 89 (executive assistance) of the Act.
Possible to conduct compulsory health examinations
The amendments will specify the existing right of the Regional State Administrative Agencies to order a compulsory health examination. The health examination could include a COVID-19 test. In addition, the physician in charge of communicable diseases in the municipality or hospital district will, in future, have the right to decide that individual persons must undergo a compulsory health examination.
The Regional State Administrative Agencies can decide on compulsory health examinations. The decision could apply to people at airports and ports who arrive in Finland from specific countries during a specific time period, for example. It could also apply to people working in specific workplaces.
In their decisions, the Regional State Administrative Agencies can take into account the regional epidemiological situation and when and to what extent healthcare workers can be used to carry out compulsory health examinations. This will make it easier to assign healthcare workers to locations where they are needed to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. This procedure will ensure that other healthcare activities are not jeopardised, for example during the COVID-19 epidemic.
If a person refuses to undergo a compulsory health examination, they can, under chapter 44, section 2 of the Criminal Code, be sentenced for a health protection violation to a fine or to imprisonment for at most three months.
Those infected or exposed will be obligated to provide information
In future, people who have, are exposed to or are justifiably suspected of having a generally hazardous or monitored communicable disease will be obligated to provide the healthcare professionals investigating the matter with information about themselves. Earlier the provision of information was voluntary.
Scope of executive assistance provided by the Border Guard to extend
Following the amendment to section 89 of the Communicable Diseases Act, the Border Guard will have the right to stop a vehicle, control traffic and process health information that is necessary for the purpose of conducting executive assistance duties.