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Exchange students linked to Covid spread at Helsinki bars

The outbreak has led to about 25 students being diagnosed with the virus and a further 70 being exposed.

Yleisnäkymä melko tyhjään yökerho Maxineen.
The Maxine nightclub was one of the premises frequented by the exchange students before their coronavirus infection was diagnosed. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

The City of Helsinki has announced that foreign exchange students spent time in three city bars before their coronavirus infection was detected, and they may have exposed other customers to the virus.

The establishments visited by the students are the Old Irish Pub on Mannerheimintie in the city on dates between 26 and 29 January, the nightclub Maxine on both 20 and 27 January, and the El Patron nightclub on 22 January.

The outbreak has led to about 25 exchange students being diagnosed with the virus, and at least a further 70 have been exposed.

Not all of the potentially exposed customers have been reached yet, and most of the students were not using the Koronavilkku app.

The Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) for Southern Finland has been in contact with the three establishments and said they have issued regulations on complying with obligations under the Infectious Diseases Act.

No nightspots closed so far

"However, we have not identified any shortcomings during the inspection visits, and there are no grounds for closing any of the bars, at least for the time being," Avi’s Riku-Matti Lehikoinen said.

There are currently more than 500 foreign students in Helsinki on short-term exchanges.

"We have offered targeted testing and guidance to exchange students," the City’s Chief Physician of Epidemiological Operations, Sanna Isosomppi, said in a statement.

Yle reported on Wednesday that Avi has inspected the Maxine nightclub in the Kamppi district of Helsinki, as authorities suspected--based on the reports they have received--the club was permitting entry to more people than should be allowed under current guidelines.

At present, Helsinki's bars and restaurants are limited to half the normal capacity of customers at any one time.

Bars and restaurants have complied well with the measures, according to Avi, and no premises have as yet been asked to close due to breaches of the regulations.

Last August, the Old Irish Pub in Vaasa was closed for a week for failing to comply with the provisions of the Communicable Diseases Act.

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