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Covid claims lives of 3 from Kouvola elderly care unit

A total of 33 coronavirus cases were diagnosed at the unit, and the district's health officer says more may be coming.

Lauttarannan kotiutusyksikkö Kuusankoskella.
Lautaranta care centre's repatriation unit, recent file photo. Image: Antro Valo / Yle

Three clients from the Lautaranta care centre in Kouvola died of coronavirus-related complications over the weekend, according to local authorities.

The patients were being cared for at a so-called repatriation unit, which provides short-term care for people over the age of 65.

As of Monday afternoon, a total of 33 coronavirus infections had been confirmed among the unit's patients as well as staff.

Several of the unit's infected patients have been transferred to the hospital, according to Social and Health Services in Kymenlaakso (Kymsote), in southeast Finland.

Commenting about the situation in general, Kymsote's chief medical officer, Marja-Liisa Mäntymaa, said that elderly clients at care homes often have underlying conditions which significantly increase the risk of complications and death from a coronavirus infection.

Outbreak started at beginning of month

"Now the worst has happened. Although we were able to prepare to some extent, it is still very unfortunate," Mäntymaa said in a statement issued by Kymsote.

The chief medical officer said that further deaths were possible and that the families and relatives of the centre's clients have been contacted individually about the situation.

The first coronavirus cases in the outbreak at the Lautaranta care centre were diagnosed during the first weekend of January. Then, all residents were subsequently tested and further cases were uncovered, according to the health district.

The repatriation unit has capacity for 39 clients, of which about 30 were occupied last week. The unit also normally has about 30 staff members.

'Worry and sadness'

No new clients are being admitted to the unit and current clients are not being transferred home.

As infected and exposed staff members are in quarantine and replaced with substitute workers, keeping the facility operational has been difficult, according to chief nurse Hannele Mattila.

"The situation is challenging, but we have the staff there. We're moving forward day by day," she said, noting that the atmosphere at the unit was full of worry and sadness.

She said due to absences, those on staff were working long shifts.

"This most affects those being cared for and their relatives, but yes, this is also a difficult situation for staff," Mattila explained.

"Even if [enough] substitutes were available they don't know how to [carry out the work] as well as our permanent staff does. The work is physically demanding because they have to use heavy [PPE] in all treatment procedures," she said.

The repatriation unit also serves clients with memory problems who need help from staff to avoid being infected by others.

Roughly half of the unit's clients have tested positive for coronavirus infections. Chief medical officer Mäntymaa said that further infections at the unit may be confirmed this week.

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