A person sewing a face mask in Helsinki on 7 April 2020. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)


MARKKU TERVAHAUTA, the director general of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), told Helsingin Sanomat on Tuesday that he is recommending that also people without symptoms wear cloth masks in public places to protect others from a possible coronavirus infection.

“I’m recommending that people use cloth masks to protect others from a possible infection,” he said. 

Eight new deaths, 76 new infections reported in Finland

  • The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Wednesday said the number of laboratory-confirmed coronavirus infections rose by 76 from the previous day to 3,237.
  • Almost two-thirds (2,038) of the cases have been reported in Uusimaa, including over 1,000 in Helsinki.
  • The virus has an incidence of 58 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the country.
  • The death toll from the virus increased by eight to 72 between Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • A total of 48,800 samples have been tested for the virus, signalling an increase of 1,500 from Tuesday.

“If we want to be responsible adults, this is one measure we can take to slow down the spread.”

The daily newspaper underlined that the recommendation applies only to cloth masks, as masks with a higher filtering capacity should still be reserved for the social and health care staff battling the epidemic. Tervahauta also clarified that his personal recommendation should not be mistaken as an order, as authorities cannot guarantee the quality and effectiveness of partly home-made cloth masks.

THL continues to recommend officially that face masks should be worn only by people who have been infected or are taking care of someone infected with the new coronavirus, echoing the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).

It points out on its website that using a face mask wrongly may even increase the risk of infection. The mask, it underscores, should always be handled with clean hands and either thrown out or washed after use. Using one also does not mean you can neglect the primary anti-infection measures of hand-washing, social distancing and cough hygiene.

Tervahauta hinted at the reversal of position on Twitter on Friday. A Chinese modelling, he highlighted, suggests that as many as four in five coronavirus infections are traceable to an asymptomatic carrier.

“If the findings are repeated, they endorse the use of surgical or cloth masks in areas with other people,” he said.

Studies corroborating the role of asymptomatic carriers have also been carried out in Germany and Scotland.

Tervahauta said to Helsingin Sanomat that the studies also indicate that the actual number of infections is probably tens of times higher than the number of confirmed infections. Also Finland is set to receive the results of its first serological analyses this week, with updates to follow every week.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi