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The Corona Lessons: Learning from Finland's Fight against Coronavirus
To date Finland – a country with a population of 5.5 million -- has only had 6,743 coronavirus infections and 313 deaths. The country’s success rests on preparedness, early intervention and creativity. The country went into a lockdown before the virus had caused any deaths. Indeed, contingency preparedness has been a key priority since the Cold War. Finland has also used highly innovative strategies to combat the virus, for example working with social media influencers to communicate its strategy. In this Corona Lesson, two of Finland’s top officials in the fight against coronavirus will discuss the country’s approach.
Maria Ohisalo has served as Minister of the Interior, the ministry for internal security and migration, since 6 June 2019. She has been Chair of the Greens of Finland since 15 June 2019, having been elected a member of the parliament in April 2019. Ohisalo has a PhD in sociology with a doctoral thesis on “Crumbs at the Bottom of a Welfare State. Charity Food Aid and Subjective Well-Being of the Disadvantaged”.
She was Vice Chair of the Greens of Finland in 2015-2019 and worked as a researcher on issues related to social exclusion. She is a council member in Helsinki City Council and was a Helsinki City Board Member in 2017-2019.
Maria Ohisalo has a background in youth athletics and she is an active cyclist. She lives with her husband in Helsinki.
Kimmo Kohvakka is the Finnish government’s Director General for Rescue Services. He has served in the Finnish public safety and security services since 1991. He started his career as an officer in the CBRN (NBC) Defence School of the Finnish Defence Forces. Since 1999 he has served in the Finnish Rescue Services (accident prevention, risk management, rescue service, preparedness, civil defence) in various positions at municipal, regional and national levels. His expertise covers risk management, resilience, societal preparedness, rescue services, civil protection and defence with a whole-of-society multi-disciplinary approach. He has participated in numerous national development programmes in the area. Since 2004 he has been serving as NATO CPG expert (WMD, Civil Preparedness).