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HUS physician criticises "confusing" Covid strategy

Finland announced a revised strategy on Monday, but HUS Chief Physician Asko Järvinen told Yle that he would have liked clearer guidelines on each agency's role and responsibility.

Asko Järvinen.
Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District's (HUS) Chief Physician Asko Järvinen appeared on Yle TV1's breakfast show Yle aamu on Tuesday morning. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
Yle News

Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District's (HUS) Chief Physician Asko Järvinen has called the government's new Covid hybrid strategy "confusing" during an interview on Yle TV1's breakfast show Ylen aamu.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) announced on Monday that her cabinet had approved a revised strategy, which will allow for the lifting of Covid restrictions when at least 80 percent of the population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

However, Järvinen told Ylen aamu that he would have liked clearer guidelines from the government regarding the division of labour between the different agencies, as well as more precise instructions with regard to testing and tracing.

"There were no concrete decisions on what to do and how to act. Practical measures were not given, and the recommendations of experts and calls for urgent action were ignored," Järvinen said, adding that the new strategy did not, for example, clarify the roles and responsibilities of the government, regional authorities and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

"At the same time, more responsibilities were placed on the regions [regional authorities], but the testing strategy and the operations of schools, how to respond if cases are found in schools, remains open. The experts have been communicating this to the ministry for a long time and have been growing increasingly concerned," Järvinen said.

If the testing of children is continued as per the current version of the Covid strategy, he added, it will lead to school closures.

"Since the end of July, THL's recommendation for testing has been that twice-vaccinated people do not have to apply for a [Covid] test unless they are a healthcare worker or there was a known exposure. This was in stark contrast to when the government said action should not be targeted at children and young people," Järvinen said.

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