Entrance to the senior centre.

The coronavirus epidemic is not over yet - several epidemics in nursing homes

There have been several coronavirus epidemics in August and September in the City of Helsinki's senior centres, service houses and Helsinki hospitals. At least two clients were diagnosed with infections in six service homes or senior centres. Infections were detected in the Roihuvuori senior centre, Myllypuro senior centre and the Itäkeskus service house, among others. Infections were also diagnosed at Suursuo Hospital.

- The coronavirus epidemic is not over yet. After March, there were no coronavirus epidemics at our sites for several months, but now several epidemics have been detected within a short time. The Delta variant spreads more easily than previous variants and the increase in the number of infections is worrying, says Helsinki City Hospital’s Medical Director Laura Pikkarainen.

The same increase in infection rates can also be seen in private purchased service units.

- In September alone, 57 residents of care services were infected with the coronavirus. The figure includes both the City of Helsinki's own locations and private service providers. Unfortunately, some of the sick have also died, Pikkarainen continues.

Third COVID-19 vaccination boosters will be ready as soon as national decisions are taken

A large percentage of the residents of Helsinki's service homes and senior centres who have contracted the coronavirus have received two vaccines.

- Although the two COVID-19 vaccines generally provide good protection against a serious form of coronavirus disease, it appears that the protection is not as strong in the elderly as in the younger ones. It is, therefore, important that the elderly are exposed to the coronavirus as little as possible. Good vaccination coverage throughout the population provides additional protection for the residents of nursing homes, Pikkarainen says.

- It has already been 8 months since the vaccinations of the residents of several nursing homes. If decisions are made at the national level on the administration of a third COVID-19 vaccination booster, we are ready to start booster vaccinations for residents of 24-hour care immediately, Pikkarainen emphasizes.

Relatives, loved ones and all of us need to protect the elderly

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to protect an elderly nursing home resident and a hospital patient from a coronavirus infection. It is also very important to use a face mask and take care of good hand hygiene.

- Looking at all the residents of nursing homes, only a small proportion of them get a coronavirus infection, but if the coronavirus enters a nursing home, it will spread really effectively despite all precautions and the infection rates will, thus, increase. That is why preventing the spread of infections is extremely important, Pikkarainen says.

- It is good that relatives are aware of the coronavirus situation in nursing homes and hospitals and understand that we all have a great responsibility in making safe visits, Pikkarainen continues.

The latest coronavirus epidemics have been detected at Kontula senior centre and Puistola service house

In Puistola service house, four residents have been infected with the coronavirus. The first infection was diagnosed on Saturday 11 September. There are infections in two different sections.

In Kontula senior centre, six residents have been infected with the coronavirus. The first infection was diagnosed on Saturday 11 September. Infections have been reported in one group home.

In both Puistola and Kontula, all residents of these sections and group homes have been tested for COVID-19 and their condition is closely monitored. The sick are being treated in quarantine-like conditions in their own rooms.

Families have been told about the situation. Visits to the sections and group homes in question are currently prohibited, but relatives may be in contact with the residents, for example, by telephone. No new residents are currently being admitted.

Photo: Maarit Miettinen