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Helsinki heart surgeon tests positive for coronavirus, 30 hospital workers now quarantined

The hospital said 30 workers who'd been in contact with the surgeon were in quarantine, including 15 doctors and 13 nurses.

HUSin Meilahden tornisairaala Helsingissä.
Meilahti hospital in Helsinki. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva
Yle News

An employee at the Helsinki University Hospital district (HUS) has tested positive for novel coronavirus, health authorities reported on Thursday.

The infected employee is a heart surgeon who had recently returned from a trip to Austria, according to the hospital.

The physician arrived at work after the trip on Monday reportedly feeling healthy, but later experienced respiratory tract infection symptoms and was tested on Tuesday and has stayed away from the hospital since.

The hospital said it then placed 28 workers who’d been in contact with the surgeon in quarantine - 15 doctors and 13 nurses. The physician was also in contact with four patients, and also possibly had the opportunity to expose family members, according to Asko Järvinen, chief physician of infectious diseases at HUS.

A total of 30 staff members - including the surgeon - were placed in quarantine due to the situation, some of whom have been tested, according to the hospital.

Heart and lung centre still operational

Antti Vento, the chief physician of the hospital’s heart and lung centre, said work at his department was continuing as usual, noting that emergency cardiac and lung surgeries were still being performed with the help of doctors from other medical districts.

Earlier this week the Institute for National Health and Welfare added the Austrian Alpine region of Tyrol, which is a popular destination for downhill skiers, to a growing list of coronavirus epidemic areas around

Health authorities on Thursday announced 22 new novel coronavirus cases, bringing the total in Finland to 87 cases. So far no fatalities have been attributed to the illness.

Edited at 13:06 12 March 2020 to include details and comments from HUS hospital staff. This story may still be updated.

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