Coronavirus infections identified in Helsinki social and health care staff – customers are being protected in every possible way

Social and health care service employees working for the City of Helsinki have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. This was to be expected, as covid-19 is highly contagious. Thus far, 17 individuals out of the approximately 14,000 social services and health care professionals that work for the city have fallen ill with the virus.

The persons in question worked in three senior centres, one hospital, one home hospital, and home care services.

Some of the infected have already recovered, while others have completed their obligatory quarantine period.

Exposed told of quarantine measures personnally

Employees that have fallen ill with the coronavirus are always interviewed carefully, and physicians specializing in infectious diseases assess who may have been exposed. Those who are judged to have been at danger of exposure are placed in quarantine, and those who are ill are isolated entirely.

Those people who are judged to have been at danger of exposure are informed personally about the situation. Elderly residents of assisted living facilities, for example, are informed on an individual basis, as are their loved ones.

“Because many of the exposed employees work in round-the-clock service jobs for the elderly, we have transferred workers from less-urgent areas to assist with senior services,” says Juha Jolkkonen, head of Helsinki’s social services and health care division.

Employees in municipal social and health care services are tested with a low threshold, and intensified testing is being introduced.

Customers protected

The health of customers and patients judged to have been at danger of exposure is being monitored very closely. All social and health care facilities, especially those providing services for the elderly and disabled, are being vigilent about protecting against further coronavirus infections.

The division has provided its staff with instructions on how to protect themselves and their customers from covid-19 infections, in accordance with official guidelines from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Data protection legislation prohibits release of identifying information

For data protection reasons, information on individual coronavirus infections is not disclosed to the public. The practice is the same for all illnesses; employers are not allowed to disclose the medical issues or health data of individuals.

If a quarantine becomes so extensive that it necessitates significant changes to customer services, this will be announced, but in a manner that protects the identities of the individuals who have fallen ill. This was how the matter was handled earlier, for example, in Helsinki schools.