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Friday's papers: School exposures, vaccines for teachers and jab queue

Experts warn that secondary school pupils may bring coronavirus infections to classrooms after the ski holidays.

Lähiopetusta luokkahuoneessa.
Schools are linked to many exposures but few infections, health experts say. Image: Benjamin Suomela / Yle

Two Covid experts told Helsingin Sanomat that while Finland's shutdown announced on Thursday would help curb the spread of the virus in the country, the situation would not be over by the end of March.

Bars and restaurants where people come together and drink alcohol have helped fuel the spread of variants, according to Helsinki Hospital District infectious disease chief Asko Järvinen, who applauded the move to close licensed establishments.

Evolutionary biologist Tuomas Aivelo meanwhile noted that closing secondary schools was a wise decision. Although schools have seen a relatively small number of infections, they have been the source of many exposures. Following up on school exposures has overburdened contact tracers who are instrumental in efforts to contain the virus. The fewer school exposures there are to sort out, the more efficiently they can do their jobs, HS writes.

In southern Finland, secondary pupils will return to school on 1 March for one week after the ski holidays before the three-week distance learning period begins on 8 March. Aivelo said he would like to see the teens stay home in the week leading up to the shutdown.

"It would minimise the risk of people passing on infections they’ve caught during the holiday," he explained.

Teachers not prioritised

With elementary schools and daycares to remain open in March, Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet writes that several countries have moved to vaccinate teachers along with other critical care personnel.

Otto Helve, THL's pediatric infectious disease specialist, however, told HBL that just 1.4 percent of those exposed in schools in Finland have contracted coronavirus.

"A child can have the same viral load as an adult, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll pass the virus on like adults," he said, noting that kids may only exhibit mild symptoms or be asymptomatic.

A study examining 43,000 individuals exposed to the virus in Finland showed that in the majority of cases transmission occurred among adults.

When is it my turn?

Tabloid Iltalehti's top story postulates when different segments of the population can expect to get the jab.

IL reports that the THL estimates that Finland will begin administering coronavirus vaccines to the general working age population by the end of June. Jabs could begin earlier if manufacturers increase vaccine deliveries, according to the paper.

Finland is offering the vaccine to everyone over the age of 16. The jabs are not being offered to younger children due to limited testing on kids.

Approximately 319,000 people in Finland have so far received the first dose of the vaccine.

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