Finland’s Prime Minister Leaves EU Summit After COVID-19 Exposure

Finland’s prime minister Friday became the second European Union leader to leave a two-day summit as a precautionary measure, after contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.  On Twitter, Sanna Marin wrote she was leaving the European Council meeting in Brussels and asked Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Lofven, to represent Finland at the talks, where leaders were wearing face masks and keeping their distance amid a spike in COVID-19 infections across Europe. Marin had participated in a meeting Wednesday at the Finnish parliament in Helsinki with lawmaker Tom Packalen, who later tested positive for COVID-19 and had mild symptoms. Marin’s early departure follows a similar decision by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who left the meeting Thursday to self-isolate after learning one of her support staff members had tested positive.  FILE – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Oct. 15, 2020.It was the second time this month Von der Leyen had to take such a precaution. She went into isolation Oct. 5 after a meeting in Portugal that included someone who later tested positive. It is unclear why the European Union chose to hold its October summit in person rather than virtually while the continent is facing a surge in new COVID-19 cases.  Marin gave a speech at the summit supporting videoconferences for meeting between EU leaders, saying there should be a higher threshold for holding in-person meetings during the pandemic. 

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