Aurora Botnia, a car and passenger ferry of Wasalines, was floated out of Rauma Marine Constructions' shipyard in Rauma, Finland, on 11 September 2020. (Juha Sinisalo – Lehtikuva)

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LANGUAGE BARRIERS, cultural differences and the living conditions of employees facilitated the spread of the new coronavirus at Rauma Shipyard in Finland, writes YLE.

Hannu Nordqvist, the chief physician at the City of Rauma, highlighted in a statement to the city’s social and health care division that the foreign employees make up a considerable share of the employees of subcontractors operating at the shipyard, with about 800 of the 1,000 employees being non-Finnish speakers.

“That the employees live in group accommodation and share rides to travel to the workplace increases the likelihood of infections. The housing hasn’t been based on cohorts, meaning an infected person may have exposed or infected everyone in the same accommodation,” he said.

Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC), the operator of Rauma Shipyard, has been asked to rectify the issues by the city.

“The objective is to return to work after a negative coronavirus test and, thereon, live in an environment that is free of Covid-19. The number of tests needed is considerable. More attention will also be paid to transport, dining and other workplace processes.”

YLE reported earlier yesterday that about 240 people at the shipyard had tested positive for the virus by Sunday. All of the roughly 800 production line workers at the shipyard had additionally been ordered into quarantine.

When infections began to spread at the shipyard, many employees did not realise that the quarantine orders were binding and that violating them could constitute an offence, according to the public broadcasting company. The operator of the shipyard has since increased communication in the languages spoken by the employees.

Nordqvist added that the language-related issues were at times compounded by the fact that employees of the shipyard and its subcontractors were difficult to reach. A positive about the outbreak is that thus far there is no evidence of infections caused by the more contagious coronavirus mutations.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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