HUS doc: Restrictions should have been eased in more controlled manner

The Deputy Physician of the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district noted that Finland has still not reached the target of 80 percent vaccination coverage.

Deputy Chief Physician of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) Eeva Ruotsalainen.

Coronavirus restrictions should have been lifted in a more controlled way, Deputy Chief Physician of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) Eeva Ruotsalainen told Yle's A-studio current affairs programme on Tuesday evening.

The increasing number of Covid patients requiring hospital treatment across the country has led to vital surgeries being delayed for other patients. In the HUS district, for example, a number of heart surgeries scheduled for last week had to be postponed, while surgical procedures have also been postponed in the Päijät-Häme region, which currently has the highest infection rate in the country.

During her appearance on A-studio, Ruotsalainen pointed out that vaccination coverage in Finland has still not reached 80 percent, which was the goal set by the government for the lifting of Covid restrictions.

Instead, most restrictions were relaxed as early as the beginning of October, even though vaccine coverage was still far from the target at the time.

"Yes, I would say that the restrictions should have been lifted in a more controlled way, because our vaccination coverage is still not even at the 80 percent that was considered a kind of target," Ruotsalainen said, adding that even 80 percent coverage might not be sufficient to prevent the spread of infections.

Chief physician of the Päijät-Häme region Tuomo Nieminen also took part in the discussion on A-studio, and agreed that the measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus were lifted too quickly.

"The plan for lifting the restrictions was certainly good, but then it was implemented too soon," Nieminen said.

Health ministry official: Situation is "worrying"

Kirsi Varhila, Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, told Yle earlier on Tuesday evening that she was worried about the current coronavirus situation and that regional authorities have a responsibility to take action.

"Now we should start thinking about well-targeted restrictive measures in areas where the capacity of hospital care, in particular, is beginning to be put into jeopardy," Varhila said.

However, she added that a nationwide "emergency brake" is not needed for the time being as regional measures can be introduced first, in line with the government's current hybrid strategy.