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Coronavirus FAQ

Updated 15 May

About the covid-19 coronavirus

I'm worried I've been exposed to coronavirus. What should I do?

If you have symptoms, stay home and call the City of Helsinki’s Coronavirus Helpline at tel. 09 310 10024 on weekdays from 7 am to 8 pm. You can also call the service number if you are concerned about the exposure or symptoms of a loved one.

At other times, call the national Medical Helpline at tel. 116 117. If you are symptom-free, you need not take any further action.

What kind of symptoms are associated with a coronavirus infection?

The symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection are a cough, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath, aches and pains, and a headache.

I've got flu symptoms. Could it be the coronavirus?

Flu symptoms are very similar to those of a coronavirus infection, but an essential distinguishing factor is exposure to the coronavirus. If your symptoms are mild, continue to care for yourself at home.

I suspect I've contracted the coronavirus, what should I do?

Use the Coronavirus symptom checker to first assess your condition, if possible. 

If your symptoms are severe and you can no longer manage at home, ring the City of Helsinki's Coronavirus Helpline at tel. 09 310 10024 on weekdays from 7 am to 8 pm. At other times, call the Medical Helpline at tel. 116 117

The helplines will refer you to either a coronavirus test or to a corona health station.

Everyone with symptoms of a coronavirus infection is referred to a coronavirus test. There are coronavirus testing points located in different parts of the city. The test will determine if you have the coronavirus infection, but antibody tests to determine if you have already had the infection are not available at the city's testing points. 

In what kind of situation do I need to see a doctor?

People with pronounced breathing difficulties, a significantly prolonged fever and a greatly weakened general condition should see a doctor.

Where are coronavirus patients being treated in Helsinki? 

All Helsinki patients needing medical assessment of their respiratory infections are referred to corona health stations in the districts of Laakso and Malmi. Patients with symptoms of a respiratory infection are not treated at any of the city's other health stations.

Before leaving your home, call the Coronavirus Helpline or the Medical Helpline (numbers above) for instructions over the telephone about what to do.

Customers of the corona health stations are treated according to the urgency of their medical condition. It is not possible to make an appointment.

In most cases, the infection passes within a week a week of home rest, without medical care. The symptoms can be eased with painkillers.

Laakso corona health station

Malmi corona health station

Can I be tested for the coronavirus? 

Finland has now introduced larger-scale testing for the public. Physicians are still the only ones with the authority to decide if a test is necessary. Consult the list of updated coronavirus testing criteria from the metropolitan area hospital network HUS for more information. 

If you have been tested, see the instructions for what to do after a coronavirus test.

Is there a vaccine against coronavirus?

There is no vaccine against the covid-19 coronavirus at present.

How can I protect myself from a covid-19 coronavirus infection?

People can avoid a covid-19 coronavirus infection in the same way they protect themselves from other respiratory tract infections. Good hand hygiene is of primary importance. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Do not cough or sneeze into the air or your hand, use a tissue or cough into your sleeve.

Can I get the coronavirus from touching surfaces?  

Coronaviruses are primarily transmitted through close contact and respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes. Normal cleaning agents can effectively kill the coronavirus on surfaces.

Can I get the coronavirus from someone who doesn't have symptoms?

It is possible for an infected person to infect others before they start to experience symptoms. It is unclear however how many of an effect this has had on the spread of the epidemic. The World Health Organisation reports that present data indicates that the majority of infections are caused by people who have symptoms.

How can the hearing-impaired access coronavirus services?

The hearing-impaired can contact services with the assistance of an interpreter. Find more information on Finland’s interpreter services on the website of the national benefits agency Kela.

Many health issues can also be resolved by using the City of Helsinki’s e-services to contact health care professionals.

A nationwide phone service providing information about the coronavirus via text message is also available at tel. 050 902 0163. This service is open every weekday from 8 am to 9 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to 3 pm.

Where can I find more information about the coronavirus? 

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) monitors the domestic and global coronavirus situation, and provides instructions for preventing coronavirus infections. Read more on the THL website.

Latest updates on the covid-19 coronavirus from THL

Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus from THL

Travel restrictions and quarantine measures

Travel to and from Finland

Starting on 14 May, cross-border commuting for employment, commissions and other essential traffic is again permitted across the Schengen internal borders. Persons arriving from abroad to work in Finland must be prepared to prove their work-related grounds for entry in connection with border checks. These restrictions and those decided earlier concerning external border traffic will remain in force until 14 June. 

Every citizen of Finland always has the right to return to Finland, and everyone has the right to leave the country. Recreational travel abroad is still not recommended, until futher notice. 

Maritime passenger traffic was also reopened on14 May. Tickets may be sold to anyone with the right of entry, and conditions for right of entry may be verified at the port.

During transport, passengers should avoid physical contact, maintain a safe distance from others and observe good hand and respiratory hygiene. People arriving in the country from abroad may not use public transport upon arrival, and are asked instead to use their own car or take a taxi to reach their final destination.

Can I go back to work, if I have just returned from a trip abroad?

All people arriving in the country are required to self-isolate in quarantine-like conditions for a period of 14 days. Passengers in Helsinki who experience symptoms of a respiratory infection after arrival should ring the Coronavirus Helpline at tel. 09 310 10024 on weekdays from 7 am to 8 pm. At other times, call the nationwide Medical Helpline at tel. 116 117.

Employees should make the necessary arrangements with their employers. 

Instructions for people in quarantine

Can my children return to schools and day care centres?

Children returning from a trip abroad are also required to remain in conditions equivalent to quarantine for 14 days.  

The Finnish government has decided that face-to-face classroom instruction for young children in grades 1-9 will resume on 14 May, as there is no longer a legal basis to deny children their right to an education in schools. Distance learning of children in grades 1-12 will continue until 13 May.

The City of Helsinki has established an Education Helpline to answer people’s questions about the school arrangements. Call tel. 09 310 10025 between 9 am and 6 pm for service in Finnish or English. Swedish-language service is available at a second number, tel. 09 310 10027.

Day care centres and pre-primary education for six year olds are still open. 

Am I entitled to loss-of-income compensation due to a post-travel quarantine?

The Finnish government's recommendation to stay home for two weeks after foreign travel is not sufficient grounds for granting a sickness allowance, nor is an employer's recommendation or order to stay home from work.

According to the Communicable Diseases Act, the decision to put someone in quarantine can only be made by a physician specializing in infectious diseases from your municipality or hospital district, when the quarantine is seen to be of benefit in the situation.

In order to claim sickness allowance on account of an infectious disease from the state benefit agency Kela, you need a statement from the doctor responsible for infectious disease control in your municipality or hospital district ordering you to stay off work. Sickness leave also cannot be granted to a person without symptoms.

What does it mean to be under quarantine?

Quarantine and isolation FAQ on the THL website

Instructions for people in quarantine  

Daycare and pre-primary education FAQ

Children in early childhood and comprehensive education (pre-K through grade 9) will return to face-to-face classroom instruction on 14 May, in accordance with the recent government decisions and recommendations. Distance learning for these children will no longer be available after 13 May. 

Gradual relaxation of coronavirus restrictions begins in Helsinki

Ministry of Education: The impact of coronavirus on education Q&A

Who is allowed to use day care services?

Day care centres and pre-primary education for six year olds are open.

Do I still need to pay for my child’s day care if my children are now being cared for at home?

The City of Helsinki has decided that it will return day care fees to families that have not used day care services since the government officially asked that children be cared for at home on 18 March. This exemption ended on 13 May.

Who will take care of my children or parents if I become ill?

Helsinki has many social service professionals available to help people in these kinds of situations. Please do not hesitate to call tel. 09 3101 5454 on weekdays from 9 am to 12 pm with even the most minor questions or concerns. Social workers will help you find help, so you can get some rest and recover. Another way to get help is to click on the ‘Need Help?’ icon at the City of Helsinki Family Support website.

If you need  help finding the appropriate service or support, or need assistance filling out applications, use the city’s social worker chat service or call tel. 09 310 44400 between 9 am and 4 pm every weekday. 

New school arrangements FAQ

Who will return to face-to-face classroom instruction and when?

Children in early childhood and comprehensive education (pre-K through grade 9) will return to face-to-face classroom instruction on 14 May, in accordance with the recent government decisions and recommendations. Distance learning for these children will no longer be available after 13 May.

The City of Helsinki’s Education Helpline is available to answer questions about the study arrangements every weekday from 9 am to 6 pm. Call tel. 09 310 10025 for information in Finnish and English. A second helpline number, tel. 09 310 10027, provides information in Swedish.

Will children who are members of risk groups be required to return to the classroom on 14 May?

Helsinki area HUS hospitals recommend that children who belong to specific risk groups stay at home. The child’s attending physician will make this decision, based on an independent assessment.

What will the school days be like?

School rectors will decide independently on the timetable for the rest of the term, and each school will provide further details and instructions as to the attending practical arrangements. Resumed school activities will comply with the latest instructions from the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.

Will afternoon care resume as well?

Afternoon activities for schoolchildren will also start again on May 14. These activities will mainly be organised outdoors, and the children will enjoy their snacks at different times in small groups. Fees for the month of May will be discounted by 50% for families who use the service between 14 and 29 May.

How about older students in upper secondary schools and vocation education?

Distance learning will continue for upper secondary school and vocational school students (grades 10-12) until the academic year finishes, in line with the state decision. This will free up some school premises for use by younger pupils. The city hopes to reach decisions on this matter later this week.

How will the school keep the students a safe distance from others?

Teaching hours might be staggered, with various groups starting and ending at different times. Classes will be kept separate, with instructors staying with one group as much as possible throughout the day, instead of moving between groups.

How will the city find enough space to keep the students spread out?

In its use of school spaces, Helsinki will follow guidelines from the Ministry of Education and Culture, the National Agency of Education and the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare. Even so, there are many specific issues that must be considered carefully on the municipal-level and the individual school-level. The possibility of staggering instruction or taking new facilities into use is being explored, in order to ensure safe distances are possible. All vacant properties in the city’s education division are being included in these considerations, as are locations in the city’s culture and leisure division and other organisations.

How will school lunches be arranged?

School lunches will be eaten in individual classrooms or in the school cafeteria, with regard for maintaining safe distances. Proper hygiene will be upheld at all times during the preparation and distribution of food, as well as during meal times.

Will the school lunch pick-up service continue after 13 May?

The school lunch pick-up service will cease when the children return to their classrooms.

Will the schools be more lenient about absences once classroom instruction resumes?

Schools will resume their normal practices when it comes to student absences. Children may not come to school, however, if they have any symptoms that might indicate that they are ill. If students start to feel poorly during the school day, they will be moved to a separate space immediately to wait for their parents or guardians, in the company of an adult.

How will the students be graded this spring?

School leaving certificates this year will evaluate the students’ skills and knowledge from the entire academic year. Most of the academic year consisted of normal classroom instruction, so no changes will be made to the evaluation process because of the exceptional circumstances. The final grade 9 evaluation is not based on solely this spring’s performance, as it is an overall assessment of the students’ knowledge and skills.

Will there be end-of-term/graduation ceremonies?

End-of-term ceremonies will be organised virtually, due to restrictions on large gatherings. Matriculation ceremonies for upper secondary school graduates in Helsinki will be organised in the autumn, on 29 August for those attending regular upper secondary schools and on 28 August for students of International Baccalaureate (IB) and adult upper secondary schools. If the graduation ceremonies cannot be held safely in August, the spring 2020 graduates may be invited to join graduation ceremonies in early December.

Arrangements for graduating students’ instruction and qualifications testing at the Helsinki Vocational College may be carried out in the school premises or yards, in line with prevailing safety regulations. Due to the restrictions on large gatherings, the vocational school’s graduation ceremony will be organised virtually on 5 June at 10 am. More information on the ceremony will be provided to graduating students and school personnel in mid-May.​

Helsinki Helpline for self-isolating seniors

As an elderly person, I’ve been told to quarantine myself at home. I don’t have relatives or acquaintances to assist me, so how can I get food and medicine?

The City of Helsinki, along with local parishes and charities, has launched a phone-in service for residents over 70 years of age. Seniors over 70 are encouraged to call the Helsinki Helpline at tel. 09 310 10020 every weekday from 9 am to 4 pm.

For as long as the coronavirus crisis continues, older people in Helsinki can call into the service to request help with errands and other everyday needs, or just to have a chat.

Participants will be able to order a week’s worth of groceries or medicine deliveries over the phone and have them delivered to their front door by municipal or parish employees or campaign volunteers. Find general information on the Helsinki Helpline on the city's website.

Support for entrepreneurs 

Is aid available for the self-employed? 

Finland's municipalities are taking applications for government grants designed to help sole proprietors and freelancers who need financial assistance in the wake of the covid-19 outbreak. Applications for the grants and the processing of the applications take place via the city's e-service portal.

Find instructions for applying for the 2,000-euro grants at the website of the City of Helsinki's business advisory service NewCo Helsinki.

Will the City of Helsinki cancel rent payments for struggling businesses?

The City of Helsinki has decided to waive rental payments for the period 1 April to 30 June 2020 for commercial tenants in at least the following lines of work: restaurants and other food services, retail stores, hairdressers, beauty salons, fitness and health services (including massage and physiotherapy), activities related to the arts, music and other public events, and business and start-up advisory services. This waiver also applies to rent on space in Helsinki’s market halls.

The decision will go into effect automatically, so business owners affected need not contact the city. Businesses that work in other sectors may also be exempted from rent payments, if it is deemed necessary in a separate assessment. During the waiver period, tenants are free to continue business operations covered by the lease, with the exception of the services shut down by state authorities. Tenants are asked to inform their property owner’s agent about any such operations.

Government orders will determine how long the rental payment waiver will ultimately last, as will the duration of the business disruption brought on by the coronavirus.

Does the rental payment exemption also extend to outdoor serving areas?

The City of Helsinki has also made the decision to waive rental payments on uncovered restaurant terraces between the period 1 April and 31 May 2020. The move was considered necessary because the coronavirus will likely keep Helsinki’s restaurants closed until the first of June. The decision applies to all of Helsinki’s uncovered terraces and parklet terraces, i.e. parking spaces that are temporarily repurposed for use as a terrace. At last count, there were 359 such spaces in the city.

Is there support for private day care centres now that so many children are staying home?

The City of Helsinki will pay compensation to private producers of early childhood education have lost customer payments because children are staying at home. The maximum compensation is equal to the maximum municipal customer payment of 289 euros per month. The private service producer must deduct the compensation amount from the customer payment, as a prerequisite for the support. Applicants for compensation must show proof of a valid care agreement for the period in question. 

Does the City of Helsinki provide advice to struggling businesses? 

The City of Helsinki's business advisory service NewCo Helsinki is offering remote business counselling during the coronavirus crisis. The service is free of charge and open to everyone. If you wish to book a 45-minute session, call 09 310 36360 between 11 am and 1 pm on weekdays. 

New Co Helsinki has also compiled a list of  helpful links and information about other groups and organisations that are providing advice and assistance to struggling businesses on its website.

Links to more information

The City of Helsinki publishes regular Coronavirus updates in English on its website.

The City of Helsinki's Helsinki-info phone service is also available on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm (3 pm on Fridays) at tel. 09 310 11111 or via a chat service to answer any questions you might have.

InfoFinland is also a comprehensive source of helpful information in 12 languages on Finland. The InfoFinland website has compiled a handy list of links to important coronavirus information from several public authorities. 

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) monitors the domestic and global coronavirus situation, and provides instructions for preventing coronavirus infections. Read more on the THL website.

Latest updates on the covid-19 coronavirus from THL

Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus from THL

15.05.2020 14:11