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Coronavirus shutters school near Tampere

Health officials in the Pirkanmaa region on Sunday afternoon said Pitkäjärvi middle school would not open next week.

Pitkäjärven koulu
Some 500 students attend Pitkäjärvi middle school. Image: Antti Eintola / Yle
Yle News

Health authorities on Sunday afternoon said Pitkäjärvi middle school in Kangasala, some 20 kilometres east of Tampere, would not open on Monday in an effort to contain a coronavirus outbreak.

Officials decided to close the school after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus, according to Merja Lehtonen, head of the department of education in Kangasala. Authorities said 90 of the school's 500 pupils and staff had been exposed to the virus. Anyone exposed to infection would be placed under quarantine, according to Tampere University Hospital district. The school hosts grades seven through ten.

At a press conference in Tampere on Sunday, Jaana Syrjänen, a physician at Tampere University Hospital, said work was underway to contact exposed people.

"I want to highlight that we don't have an epidemic. We're looking at isolated cases," she said, adding that "the virus doesn't survive for long on surfaces and regular cleaning practices are enough [to kill it].

Health officials also said over a dozen students at Tampere University had been exposed to the virus and were quarantined. Exposed university students were mainly associated with the university's faculty of built environment.

Tampere University president Mari Walls said classes at the university would go on as usual on Monday.

Parents of students at the Pitkäjärvi school meanwhile told Yle they were not sure whether or not it was safe for them to go to wok on Monday.

Finland's health watchdog, THL, on Sunday confirmed five new cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 24.

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