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More than 70 exposed to coronavirus at Tampere University

The chain of infections originated off-campus during students' free time.

The central campus of the University of Tampere has about 12,000 students. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The University of Tampere has revealed that more than 70 people have been exposed to coronavirus after a chain of possible infections began following an unofficial student event.

At least seven people reported experiencing mild coronavirus symptoms, and the mass exposure has also affected family members of students.

Tampere University Hospital’s chief physician Jaana Syrjänen told Yle that the infections apparently originated from outside the university campus.

"The infections are probably related to a mass event where there were a lot of students. This did not happen on university premises," Syrjänen said.

The exposure at Tampere University follows reports of similar incidents in Helsinki and the central Finland city of Jyväskylä, which were also linked to student social events.

Two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Pirkanmaa region on Thursday are related to the university's chain of exposure, which Syrjänen said is not surprising.

"I think it's quite obvious that something like this would happen. After all, Finland follows a strategy by which patients are found and restrictions are imposed on them and those exposed. We don't shut down the entire society," she said, and further stressed the need for an efficient testing process.

"It is important that access to coronavirus testing and the arrival of the results are as fast as possible in order to catch the infection chains," Syrjänen added.

Milder symptoms in younger people can lead to complacency

Syrjänen also issued a reminder that the virus has not disappeared, and while it is rarely serious for younger people, it can be for their parents and grandparents.

"It does not help the situation if in their free time, people completely forget about the entire thing," she said, adding that she also understands that young people want to socialise at the beginning of their studies.

Using a mask does not feel natural when eating, drinking and celebrating, Syrjänen added, which means more attention should be paid to safety distances and group sizes.

"It is important to meet people, and I meet my friends myself, but we keep a safe distance," she said.

The University of Tampere said it recommends staff and students wear masks in situations and spaces where it is not possible to maintain a safety distance, and also recommends that everyone on campus downloads the contact tracing app, Koronavilkku.