Estonian woman protests arrest in Finland over coronavirus non-compliance

Finnish police patrol car (photo is illustrative).
Finnish police patrol car (photo is illustrative). Source: L-S poliisi/Twitter

An Estonian woman resident in Finland was arrested at the weekend after refusing to take a coronavirus test, daily Postimees reports. The woman, who is being detained in a hospital under supervision and who posted a video online of her arrest, owns a yoga studio in central Finland, which had seen a coronavirus-positive person attend last week.

The woman, named by Postimees (link in Estonian) as Merike Sirelpuu, wrote on her social media account that: "They forced me on to the living room couch; two full men used brute force on a small woman in front of my 11-year-old daughter," before, the woman wrote, the police personnel confiscated her phone – the phone footage (see link) was filmed by the daughter on another device – and conveyed her to a patrol car to take a test, which she referred to as a "rape operation", having already earlier referred to the events leading up to the incidence as a "kidnapping."

That sequence of events began, Postimees reports, on February 26, when authorities found that three to six days earlier, a coronavirus-positive person had visited the yoga hall which Sirelpuu owns but who refused to cooperate in mapping close contacts – i.e. people who had recently attended the studio – in conjunction with Finnish health authorities, though she did aquiesce in quarantining immediately, she says.

The facility Sirelpuu owns is the Lisalmi MS Studio in the town of the same name, over 400 km north of Helsinki. The story was originally reported by Finnish local daily Savon Sanomat, that country's public broadcaster, Yle, reports (link in Finnish).

Sirlepuu reportedly also refused to go for a test herself despite several calls requesting her to do so, which led to last weekend's incident and her detention since then – which she says via social media is ongoing and no test result has been forthcoming; Sirlepuu hit out at lock-down in Finland, currently stricter than that in Estonia despite Finland having a considerably lower coronavirus rate, and claimed that a Finnish health board official who contacted her last Saturday had ambitions to be another [chief of the Estonian government's coronavirus advisory council, Professor] Irja Lutsar.

Sirelupuu said that she had planned to attend a test when her quarantine period was ended, but, Postimees reports, the police intervened when a call from the Finnish health board had not been picked up – she had allegedly been walking phone-less in nearby woods - and she remains under the supervision of health officials in a hospital: "Where my hands and feet were fastened to the bed with straps on the middle body bed," she says.

Finland declared a state of emergency earlier on in the week, though entry into the country, including from Estonia, had been barred to all but the most pressing cases, meaning large numbers of Estonian citizens living and working in Finland and/or commuting between the two countries had to decide which side of the Gulf of Finland to stay on, as they had done last spring also. Discussions between Finnish premier Sanna Marin and her Estonian counterpart Kaja Kallas (Reform) last month did not yield any concrete changes to the travel regime.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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