More than 200 people in Rovaniemi were reportedly exposed to novel coronavirus last week from three people with confirmed infections, according to Lapland central hospital infectious diseases chief Markku Broas. All of the persons who have been identified have been placed in quarantine for 14 days.
Authorities originally reported 100 people were suspected to have been exposed to the virus, with seventy-four of the cases related to the Poropolku daycare and the close relatives of 10 daycare children who tested positive for the virus. The Poropolku daycare has been closed until 27 July.
Meanwhile 26 people from the Defence Forces have also been exposed.
The Defence Forces said 32 people have been tested in a bid to determine the source of infection.
Other exposures occurred at a Hoplop indoor play park in Rovaniemi, where an infected child spent time on 8 July between 11am and 3pm.
Rovaniemi resident Miia Karjalainen’s daughter was one of the children at the indoor playground at the same time as the infected child. "We visit Rollohalli or Holop about twice a year, this happened to be the wrong day," Karjalainen said.
Family members asymptomatic
Karjalainen’s daughter has been ordered to remain in quarantine at home for 14 days, but she wondered why the order was not extended to the entire family.
"We will not get rid of this disease if other family members are allowed to live normally. On top of that, who wants to have other family members visit when one person is waiting for their coronavirus test results and is still wondering if they will have symptoms," she added.
Karjalainen said that no family members have exhibited any symptoms, but noted that this has not provided any sense of relief. "Being asymptomatic is scary. Should I get tested at the end of my vacation? Do I dare return to work without symptoms to infect others?"
According to infectious diseases head Broas, so far more than 30 people who had been at Hoplop have contacted the Rovaniemi health centre or other health authorities. They will be tested for the virus if needed. He said he believed that more people would come forward.
Broas said that Lapland health authorities have not been able to pin down the infection chain so far. Despite widespread testing, no other coronavirus cases have been diagnosed.
However, reports of the infections and possible exposures appear to have inspired more people in Rovaniemi to get tested. On the average weekday in June about 20-30 people showed up for testing, compared to more than 100 per day toward the end of last week.
Story updated 15 July 2020 at 4:3pm to reflect that a further 100 people have been exposed to coronavirus as a result of contacts with the three infected people, bringing the total to about 200.