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HUS: Testing capacity to rise sharply by autumn

The hospital district said that current testing capacity is 2,500 tests per day and could rise to 4,000 per day.

Huslabin kyltti seinässä
Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle
Yle News

The Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS) says it is aiming to ramp up coronavirus tests to as many as 4,000 per day as it braces for a second wave of infections. However it noted that it is still not clear when the second wave would wash over Finland.

Speaking during a media briefing on the novel coronavirus situation in Finland, deputy medical chief of staff Eeva Ruotsalainen said that the regional health body has a test and trace strategy in place.

She added that current testing capacity is at 2,500 tests per day, but that this could rise to between 3,000 and 4,000 per day by early autumn. She noted that testing and tracing is currently ongoing at municipalities and central hospitals.

HUS officials said that they are preparing for a second wave of infections in Finland, and that the summer holiday will be a critical period in the course of the epidemic. However, they said that rather than emphasising long-term forecasts, they are focusing on two- to four-week projections of the progress of the epidemic to assist with decision-making.

HUS development director Visa Honkanen said that in terms of restrictions and the ability to move about, all of the Nordic countries are on the same level. However, HUS said that Finland is in a comparable situation with Norway and Denmark regarding fatalities and patients in intensive care.

He added that the current four-week forecast suggests that the situation will remain stable and that the effects of relaxed restrictions are not yet fully visible, so the authority is prepared to react rapidly if required.

HUS said that it aimed to manage its personnel resources to ensure that hospital staffing would be sufficient for patient care during that period. Officials added that additional staff would be hired during the summer if needed.

Officials added that the epidemic is a huge challenge for the health care system but noted that everyone can do their part by reducing contact, practicing good hand hygiene and maintaining a safe distance from others.

HUS will host its next media briefing on 28 May.

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