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Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa to cancel public events, close city facilities and move older schoolkids to distance learning

“We all need a wakeup call,” says Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

Två män står vid sina podium och håller presskonferens.
Image: Lehtikuva

Municipal leaders in the capital city region say they plan stringent new measures to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Leaders said at a press conference on Tuesday that they want to close city service facilities, such as swimming pools, libraries and ice rinks.

“We are currently not doing enough to prevent infections, so stronger action is needed. The only way to keep the virus in control is to reduce the number of contacts we have with people, and by increasing social distancing,” says Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki.

Vapaavuori said that secondary education will be moved to remote learning, while primary schools and early childhood education will remain open.

More details on the new restrictions, including information on how long they will be in place, will be announced on Thursday.

"The municipal coronavirus coordination groups will present their plans this week, which in practice means that we will introduce measures that are within the city powers’ remit. They are somewhat limited, and the more stringent measures require government action," says Vapaavuori.

Coronavirus infections have increased considerably in the capital region and there is a need to implement more drastic measures, states Helsinki University Hospital district (HUS) CEO, Juha Tuominen.

The current coronavirus testing capacity is five times higher than it was in the spring, but in the past week, there has been a considerable jump in infections.

There has been an increase in hospital admissions — and in the last day alone, the number of admissions have risen by 15 per cent.

Coronavirus infections have also been detected in care homes and homeless shelters in the capital region.

In addition, the coronavirus tracking system has been congested.

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