A sign of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in Helsinki in March 2022. THL on Tuesday said Finns can treat the coronavirus as they would any other respiratory virus. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)


THE FINNISH INSTITUTE for Health and Welfare (THL) has updated its guidelines on the new coronavirus, instructing the public to treat it as any other respiratory virus.

THL on Tuesday stated that special instructions for the coronavirus are no longer necessary because the disease it causes is often indistinguishable in terms of symptoms from other respiratory diseases and because mild forms of the disease are treated similarly to a regular flu.

If a patient feels that their condition is deteriorating or experiences severe symptoms, they are advised to contact health care providers similarly to any other disease.

“Coronavirus should be approached in the same way as other respiratory tract infections,” stated Tuula Hannila-Handelberg, a chief physician at THL. “Those belonging to risk groups should contact their health care provider with a low threshold.”

THL stated that people infected with the virus can return to everyday life as soon as the fever is gone and the symptoms have clearly subsided. The guidelines previously stated that a person infected with the virus should avoid contact with others for five days following the onset of symptoms.

Hannila-Handelberg reminded that it is advisable to rest at home with any respiratory tract infection.

“One can return to work, school and daycare when the symptoms have clearly subsided and the possible fever is gone. With a child, it is a good idea to wait until the child is able to participate in schoolwork or early-childhood education and care activities. Workplaces can give their own guidelines,” she said.

THL pointed out that although cough and runny nose are symptoms that can linger for a long time, they should not prevent anyone from returning to everyday life as the communicability of viral infections decreases rapidly after the onset of symptoms.

Finns, it added, can continue to use home tests at their own discretion. In health care, though, testing is presently limited mostly to symptomatic people who are at risk of severe forms of the coronavirus disease.

THL also highlighted that many respiratory infections are currently circulating in Finland. The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is causing a number of infections at the same time as the influenza epidemic has begun and the coronavirus continues to spread through the population. People can protect themselves from any of the viruses by taking the recommended vaccinations, staying at home while sick, washing hands, sneezing and coughing into the sleeve, wearing a mask, avoiding close contact and taking care of ventilation.

“If you get sick, it is important to refrain from visiting friends and family during Christmas,” said Hannila-Handelberg. “By doing this, everyone can protect at-risk groups, such as older people.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT