A nurse opening a door for corona testing.

Coronavirus infections still on the rise in Helsinki

These last few days, the number of coronavirus infections has been growing even more in Helsinki. There have been over 100 new cases a day, and the incidence rate on Friday 16 August was 137 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days. A corresponding rise in infections is seen elsewhere in Europe, too.

More than half of infections have been passed on in restaurants and bars and during other leisure time activities in Finland. Infections going back to the European football championships are becoming rarer. Infections right now are most common among young adults, and the majority have been caused by the virus’ delta variant. As yet, the growing number of infections has not badly affected health care in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Covid-19 tracing, on the other hand, has been very busy. Right now, it is essential that anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to the coronavirus make sure they don’t pass on the disease to others.

“The corona crisis is not over yet. Although it’s summer and holiday time, it is extremely important that we all take our share of the responsibility for fighting the epidemic. We all need to get vaccinated as soon as possible in our turn. Anyone who has symptoms should stay in quarantine. When we are close to other people, we must still protect each other by keeping a distance and wearing a mask, and washing our hands frequently. We should not wait to go and get tested, but go as soon as we have the slightest symptoms or feel we might have been infected. The situation in hospitals is still under control, but we all need to remember that the epidemic is not over yet. We still need to take all the precautions and safety measures if we want to try to avoid stricter restrictions and a close-down of society again when schools start in autumn – in just a few weeks time,” says Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki.

Helsinki residents still actively go and get themselves tested, and testing times are well available. The proportion of positive test has been on the rise, too, and was up at 3.3 per cent on Friday 16 July.

Anyone who has the slightest symptoms should go and get tested, and avoid being close to other people until they get their test result. We must absolutely NOT meet other people if we have symptoms. Testing can be booked on www.omaolo.fi or by calling the coronavirus counselling, ph. +358 9 310 10024, wich is open every day between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (08.00-18.00).

If we have been exposed, we must stay in quarantine even if the test gives a negative result. A negative test is no guarantee that we don’t spread the infection.The disease may still be in an early phase and may be transmitted, for example, on the following day. And although we may have mild symptoms ourselves, we must remember that the disease may be very dangerous, even fatal, to others.

Right now, the symptoms of the coronavirus are like a common cold or flu, or stomach symptoms. Such symptoms may be fever, cough, headache, nausea, diarrhoea, muscle aches, a sore throat, a cold in the nose, breathing difficulties or loss of smell or taste.

The ways to protect ourselves and others against the coronavirus still include a good hand hy-giene and coughing hygiene, keeping a safe distance (at least two metres), wearing a mask when we have to be near other people, going and getting tested if we have symptoms, and avoiding contact with other people when we are not sure we don’t carry the virus. Downloading the Koronavilkku app will be useful, too. We should remember that although some restrictions have been lifted, there is no reason to be less careful.

As of Friday 16 July, 66 per cent of Helsinki residents had had their first covid-19 vaccination, and 25 per cent their second. In younger age groups, too, more and more people have been vac-cinated. It is crucial that everyone has their vaccination and go and get it right away in their turn. On Saturday 17 July, first vaccinations were given without appointment at alla vaccination sta-tions in Helsinki, and vaccination times are well available. The quickest way to book a vaccination time is on www.koronarokotusaika.fi.

We are all responsible for each others’ wellbeing. The first vaccination only gives partial protec-tion, and does not prevent the disease from spreading. When we have had the vaccination, we must keep on remembering the other ways to protect ourselves and others. This way, we may hopefully avoid a return to stricter restrictions this summer and when schools start again in autumn.

Photo: Virpi Velin