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Nightclubbing PM ‘sorry’ for ignoring COVID rules

sanna marin nightclub covid
Finnish PM Sanna Marin visited a restaurant and then went clubbing until the early hours, despite COVID exposure. Photo: Getty
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Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has apologised for going clubbing after being named as a close contact of a confirmed COVID case.

“I did wrong. I should have considered the situation more carefully,” Ms Marin said in a television interview by public broadcaster Yle on Wednesday night.

The PM sparked uproar after a Finnish gossip magazine published a photo of her in a crowded Helsinki night club on Saturday – just hours after her foreign minister tested positive for the virus.

Ms Marin was initially told she did not need to isolate because she had been fully vaccinated. She missed a text message advising her that, in fact, she should do so because it was sent to her work phone – which she left at home.

Seiska magazine said it spoke to witnesses who saw 36-year-old Ms Marin dancing at the Butchers club, and that she had stayed until 4am.

At first Ms Marin defended her actions, claiming she followed the advice of her secretary of state, who told her of the COVID Covid exposure.

But in a Facebook post on Monday, shesaid she should have double-checked the guidance and used better judgement.

“I am very sorry for not understanding that I needed to do that,” she wrote.

But the PM wasn’t alone. Economic Affairs Minister Mika Lintila went to a floorball match between Finland and Latvia on Sunday, despite being advised to avoid contact with others, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen went to a dinner party on Saturday while Finance Minister Annika Saarikko and Science and Culture Minister Antti Kurvinen cancelled their attendance of the same event to avoid contacts, evening paper Ilta-Sanomat reported earlier.

All three ministers were exposed on Friday at a meeting attended by Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, who tested positive on Saturday.

Ms Marin said she was at a restaurant when she received a phone call from her state secretary informing her about the exposure.

“He said ministers would not be quarantined because they all have been vaccinated twice,” she wrote on Facebook, explaining why she continued socialising.

Her office said later it had sent the exposed ministers two text messages on Saturday recommending that they avoid contact with other people.

Mr Marin said she had expected staff to contact her on her personal phone.

She has since taken two tests, with negative results. Mr Lintila and Mr Kaikkonen have also tested negative.

Ms Marin became the world’s youngest prime minister when she was elected to lead a centre-left coalition with four other parties in 2019.

Finland has had about 196,000 COVID cases and 1384 deaths throughout the pandemic.

Infections have been creeping up by more than 1000 a day since September, while the country has also confirmed eight cases of the Omicron variant.

The Finnish Health Institute recommends avoiding social contact while awaiting COVID test results.

-with AAP