Rail passengers on a platform at Helsinki Central Station on 28 September 2020. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THE CORONAVIRUS COORDINATION GROUP for Uusimaa is proposing that the restrictions and recommendations outlined earlier this week be introduced across what is the most populated region of Finland.

Markku Mäkijärvi, the chief medical officer at the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS), told YLE on Wednesday that the time to take action against the virus is now.

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“The infection numbers have risen significantly in the past week, as has the share of positive test results. The number of patients in hospitals has increased at a similar rate to last spring,” he said. “By combining these forewarnings, it’s easy to understand that if you intend to do something to slow down the epidemic, now is the time.”

Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa alone accounted for 205 of the 363 laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases reported in Finland between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Reports on Tuesday indicated that the three cities are set to step up their response to the epidemic significantly: all public events are to be prohibited, all municipality-run facilities such as libraries and sports facilities are to be shut down, and in-person instruction in upper-secondary education is to be suspended.

The restrictions are set to remain in effect for a minimum of three weeks.

“We’ll then examine how the measures are kicking in, what kind of changes there are in the infection and patient numbers. No one can predict how the epidemic will move forward,” commented Mäkijärvi.

The measures, he underscored, should be adopted as soon as possible to ensure they have the desired impact.

The decision-making process leading up to the adoption is twofold, according to YLE. The proposal tabled by the coordination group forms the basis for decision-making by municipal authorities and the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for Southern Finland. A more detailed announcement on the measures and their implementation schedule is expected by the end of this week.

The public broadcasting company revealed that also the other municipalities are prepared to decide on the measures without delay. Arto Lindberg, the municipal manager of Tuusula, pointed out that it is important that the restrictions and recommendations are uniform across Uusimaa.

“We have quite a lot of folk who move within the region. That’s when uniform practices are important,” he reminded.

His sentiments were echoed by Christoffer Masar, the municipal manager of Kauniainen: “It’s good to have the same standards within Uusimaa, so that municipal residents don’t have to scratch their heads over what restrictions are in effect in each part.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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