Finland’s prime minister has come under sustained criticism after it was revealed she stayed out dancing until the early hours on the weekend despite knowing she had been exposed to Covid-19.
Sanna Marin, 36, apologised on Monday after a gossip magazine published photos of her at a Helsinki nightclub on Saturday night until almost four in the morning, hours after her foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, tested positive for coronavirus.
“My husband and I … had been out to eat, been shopping in town, seen friends and also spent time [enjoying] the evening and nightlife,” the Social Democrat leader wrote on Facebook.
She said she was told by an official that the coronavirus guidelines did not require her to isolate, despite having been in contact with an infected person.
“I should have used better judgment and double-checked the guidance given to me. I am very sorry for not understanding that I needed to do that,” Marin wrote.
In a poll commissioned by the TV channel MTV3, two-thirds of respondents said Marin’s night out was a “serious mistake”.
Opposition parties criticised Marin for potentially breaking official Covid guidelines and for missing a later text message warning her to isolate.
The finance minister, Annika Saarikko, from the Centre party, a partner in the ruling coalition, stopped short of criticising Marin directly.
However, she told the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper that she was “glad I was at home” when she received a text message to isolate, and she cancelled her plans for the next day.
Finland has sustained some of Europe’s lowest incidences of the virus throughout the pandemic, recording more than 196,000 cases and 1,384 deaths in the country of 5.5 million people.
However, infections are now at a record high, with 308 new cases per 100,000 people in the last fortnight. The country has recorded eight cases of the new Omicron variant.
Marin, who became the world’s youngest prime minister when appointed in 2019, has previously been the target of criticism over parties at her official residence and social media posts in which she poses with friends or appears to promote fashion accessories.
In October she responded to critics with an Instagram post quoting a Finnish pop song that said: “Hey boom-boom-boomer, put some ice in your hat and cool it.”
She later told the broadcaster Yle: “I’m a representative of the younger generation, and yes that’s reflected in the way I do my work and how I live.”