The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Monday updated its recommendations on testing under 12-year-olds and the definition of exposure in the context of education. (Teemu Salonen – Lehtikuva)

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THE FINNISH INSTITUTE for Health and Welfare (THL) has updated its recommendations for testing children for the new coronavirus, stating that under 12-year-olds no longer need to get tested for flu-like symptoms.

THL on Monday told that under 12-year-olds should get tested if they develop symptoms and have verifiably been exposed to a laboratory-confirmed coronavirus infection in the past two weeks.

They should also get tested if they live in the same household as over 16-year-olds who have yet been fully vaccinated or with people who have a deficient immune response against the coronavirus, or if testing is recommended by a physician who has examined them.

Children should, however, refrain from going to school or kindergarten if they develop symptoms associated with a coronavirus infection.

“It is perfectly reasonable to forgo testing and monitor mild symptoms at home. Symptoms are regarded as mild when the child is energetic and able to play despite having a cough, fever or running nose,” outlined Emmi Sarvikivi, a chief physician at THL. “They should nonetheless avoid contact outside the family until the symptoms have clearly subdued.”

She pointed out that similarly to other viral infections, a coronavirus infection loses its transmissibility relatively quickly after the onset of symptoms, even if the carrier continues to experience lingering symptoms such as mild cough or running nose.

“A child should always stay at home with a recent infection, but once the symptoms have clearly decreased and the child is energetic they can return to school or kindergarten,” said Sarvikivi.

Unvaccinated people and over 12-year-olds who develop symptoms associated with a coronavirus infection should get tested always at the onset of symptoms matching the infection.

The recommendations also state that people who have been in the same classroom or other similar space with a confirmed carrier in a school or kindergarten are no longer automatically deemed to have been exposed to the virus. Authorities will in such cases seek to determine which people have actually come into close contact with the carrier, thus becoming exposed to the virus.

“Entire classes and groups in schools have previously been placed into quarantine as a precautionary measure in cases of exposure. The risk of infection has proven rather low in schools,” explained Sarvikivi.

Only 1.9 per cent of the over 95,000 people who were exposed to the virus in kindergartens, schools and other education institutions during the 2020–2021 school year actually contracted the virus.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT