A child studied at home due to the coronavirus-induced school closures in Helsinki on 17 March 2020. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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FAMILIES in Finland are faced with a lengthy quarantine if one member tests positive for the new coronavirus.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Friday announced it has extended the duration of the quarantine required from people who have come into contact with someone who has contracted the virus from 10 to 14 days. If the carrier is a member of the same family, however, the duration of the quarantine should be 21 days.

The quarantine rules were amended in response to the emergence of new coronavirus mutations that may spread quicker than previous strains.

Even though the lengthy quarantine is justified from the perspective of infectious diseases control, it can put families with children in a difficult situation, Meri Larivaara, a physician at Mental Health Finland, reminded YLE on Monday.

“An extra week is a long time to withdraw from your usual daily life. It tests your patience,” she explained.

The three-week quarantine applies not only to family members but also to co-inhabitants of share houses. The Finnish public broadcasting company reported that the rule of thumb is that anyone who is in constant contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus should stay in quarantine for 21 days.

The only way to avoid the extended quarantine is to either isolate the carrier in a separate building or move the other co-inhabitants elsewhere.

Larivaara told YLE that when people are forced to abandon their lives outside the home for extended periods of time, it can create friction between various members of the household – as was observed last spring.

“Conflicts from last spring’s restrictions are also ongoing in homes,” she said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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