An inspection carried out by local authorities found no shortcomings in Maxine, a nightclub located in Kamppi, Helsinki. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)


A CLUSTER of coronavirus infections has been detected among exchange students in Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

The City of Helsinki on Thursday reported that at least 25 exchange students have tested positive for the new coronavirus after spending time, and possibly exposing other patrons, in three restaurants: El Patron on 22 January, Old Irish Pub on 26–29 January and Maxine on 20 and 27 January.

At least 70 people are believed to have been exposed to the virus, but some of them have yet been reached by local authorities. The students were not using the national contact-tracing app, Koronavilkku. Anyone who visited the establishments at the specified time is therefore instructed to monitor their health and get tested for the virus without delay if they develop even the mildest of symptoms. 

The Finnish capital is presently home to about 500 exchange students.

Iltalehti on Monday reported that concerns about perceived lack of compliance with official instructions have emerged in the wake of photos and video footage of an event organised in Maxine last Sunday. The managing director of the nightclub’s operator, however, told the tabloid daily that only 38 per cent of the seats were in use.

The City of Helsinki said the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for Southern Finland has contacted the three establishments in question and order them to comply with the obligations laid down in the act on communicable diseases.

“We have not detected any issues when inspecting the restaurants, nor is there justification at the moment at least for shutting down the restaurants,” commented Riku-Matti Lehikoinen, a senior inspector at AVI for Southern Finland.

Lehikoinen told Helsingin Sanomat that the inspections focus on, for example, whether establishments have limited their capacity sufficiently, whether patrons are able to practise social distancing, and whether the hygiene and opening hours orders are followed.

“Yesterday, for example, we carried out an inspection at Maxine. There were 30–40 people there, and we didn’t find anything worth a reprimand.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT