Number of asylum seekers has diminished significantly during coronavirus epidemic
The number of asylum applications has diminished significantly during the coronavirus epidemic. For the time being, no asylum applications have been submitted at Finnish borders after the restrictions on border traffic came into force on 19 March 2020.
A total of 36 new asylum applications were submitted during the period from 19 March to 5 April 2020. The applicants have already resided in Finland before the restrictions on entry into Finland came into force due to the coronavirus epidemic. The date of arrival and the travel route of two applicants are still under examination through asylum investigation.
In total, 460 first asylum applications have been submitted in 2020. A total of 185 new applicants were submitted in January, 135 in February and 131 in March, during the whole month.
The most urgent asylum interviews will be held
The Finnish Immigration Service will process asylum applications already submitted also during the exceptional situation. Asylum interviews have been temporarily interrupted since 16 March 2020. Interviews will be continued next week on a limited basis.
‘We will primarily interview the most urgent clients, such as those in a vulnerable position,’ says Director of Asylum Unit Antti Lehtinen.
Asylum interviews will only be held in such premises where staff members and clients can be sufficiently protected from potential coronavirus infections. The equipment of interview rooms used include plexiglas screens providing protection against the transmission of droplets.
Coronavirus risk relating to persons arriving from abroad has been addressed
An application for international protection can be submitted even during this exceptional situation. The application can only be submitted in Finland, as usual. The police or Border Guard will receive the application when the asylum seeker arrives in Finland and guide the applicant to a reception centre.
If the asylum seeker arrives in Finland from abroad, the reception centre will guide the applicant to circumstances corresponding to a 14-day quarantine, minimising close contacts with other clients and staff members. The procedure is the same as that applied to Finns returning from abroad.
All asylum seekers will undergo an initial health examination at the reception centre in accordance with the normal procedure. There are also health-care professionals working at reception centres. The Finnish Immigration Service has given guidance to asylum seekers about the coronavirus and the effects of the exceptional situation in their native language.
Further information on how reception centres have prepared can be found in a newsroom article (in Finnish).