Herttoniemi Hospital.

COVID-19 situation in Helsinki has deteriorated rapidly – city enters enhanced preparedness level, prepares to open reserve hospital, concentrates resources on urgent services

The COVID-19 situation in Helsinki has deteriorated dramatically. The number of COVID-19 infections continues to increase very rapidly in Helsinki. COVID-19 infection can occur anywhere at the moment, and Helsinki residents and others visiting the city are urged to use a face mask and avoid all unnecessary contact.

In the last seven days, more than 10,000 new infections have been reported in Helsinki. Many COVID-19 infections also go undetected. Infection rates have increased rapidly since the beginning of December, especially due to the highly infectious Omicron variant. There are already 70 COVID-19 patients in the City of Helsinki’s hospitals, and the number is increasing rapidly. Some Helsinki residents with COVID-19 are also being treated in HUS hospitals, and altogether there are almost 100 Helsinkians in hospital due to COVID-19 infection – almost double from two weeks ago. The figure does not include, for example, those already in care services or in city hospitals for other reasons who have been infected with COVID-19 during their treatment.

City raises emergency preparedness to enhanced level

The City of Helsinki is preparing for the worsening COVID-19 situation in many ways. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the entire city is raising its emergency preparedness to the enhanced level. By raising the preparedness level, the city is directing the resources needed to manage the COVID-19 crisis to the use of the Social Services and Health Care Division as necessary. The preparedness level will be lowered as soon as the situation permits. At the moment, the COVID-19 crisis is placing such a strain on the city’s social and health care capacity that the current social and health care resources alone are not sufficient to secure the necessary functions.

The Social Services and Health Care Division has also decided to start preparing for the introduction of the Herttoniemi Reserve Hospital immediately. The Herttoniemi Reserve Hospital will have beds for 50 patients.

In addition to the basic preparedness for normal situations, the city has three levels of emergency preparedness, of which enhanced preparedness is the second highest.

Preparations underway to open Herttoniemi Reserve Hospital – staff transfers possible

Helsinki is preparing for staff transfers of city employees in order to secure hospital care. The City’s Social Services and Health Care Division needs more manpower to open the Herttoniemi Reserve Hospital, among other things.

Helsinki also needs to restrict the provision of non-urgent social and health care services, so that resources can be concentrated on vaccinations, treatment of COVID-19 patients and other urgent and necessary care and services.

The high number of COVID-19 infections means that more and more people of working age are unable to work due to contracting or being exposed to COVID-19. Absences of the city’s own staff due to COVID-19 infections and quarantine are also increasing.

Photo: Paavo Jantunen