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Expert: Finland's escalating corona cases won't decrease before May

The country's heightened coronavirus-related restrictions go into effect on 8 March.

Henkilö käytti kasvomaskia Mall of Triplassa Helsingissä 7. joulukuuta 2020.
Face mask-wearing visitors at Helsinki's Mall of Tripla, file photo. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Finland's newly-announced three-week period of new coronavirus restrictions will not be adequate in fighting the ongoing escalation of new cases, according to the chief administrative physician at Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS), Veli-Matti Ulander.

He said that new infection cases would only begin declining closer to May Day.

The heightened restrictions, referred to by officials as a partial shutdown, were announced by the government on Thursday and are to go into effect on 8 March for three weeks in areas which are in the "spreading" stage of the pandemic.

The new rules involve the closure of bars and restaurants and order schools to begin remote learning efforts, among other measures.

"The worst situation for hospitals could be at the end of March and during Easter, unfortunately," Ulander said.

He made the statements on Yle's TV breakfast programme on Friday, alongside the director of the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) Markku Tervahauta.

The health authority director noted that a decline in the country's new coronavirus cases would take place slowly.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) suggested that the stricter measures will apply immediately in Helsinki and Uusimaa, Southwest Finland, Satakunta, Kanta-Häme, Vaasa, Åland and Lapland.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor of Justice, Tuomas Pöysti, said the "most important thing" to combat the further spread of the virus was for members of the public to follow the government's guidelines and restrictions.

"There must be [personal] responsibility and vigilance, not just rights. People who knowingly do not follow the rules should be sanctioned. People are sanctioned for [mandatory] quarantines, for example," Pöysti told Yle in a radio interview on Friday.

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