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Helsinki hospital outbreak led to deaths on non-Covid wards

A hospital boss has apologised for the infections.

Laakson sairaalan opastekyltti Helsingissä.
Laakso hospital has seen a jump in infections. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Patients at a Helsinki hospital who contracted coronavirus during their stay have died of the disease, admitted a hospital boss on Friday.

Yle had earlier reported on an outbreak among staff at the Laakso hospital in the Finnish capital.

Hospital boss Laura Pikkarainen had told Yle then that none of those who caught coronavirus in hospital had died.

On Friday she clarified that she had been talking about staff members then, and that in fact five patients admitted to non-coronavirus wards had caught the disease and passed away.

"I am very sorry for those patients who have been infected on our wards," said Pikkarainen. "That has of course not been the idea of hospital care."

The Laakso hospital has been a designated coronavirus clinic since the start of the epidemic in Finland.

Since 19 March at least 69 staff members have fallen ill with coronavirus. Hospital managers are aiming to test some 800 workers on the site for coronavirus, as a precautionary measure.

Onward spread

Infectious disease specialists are currently trying to determine whether the disease has spread from one ward to another at the hospital.

Up to now no onward transmission between non-corona wards has been observed, according to Pikkarainen.

Laakso will continue to admit non-coronavirus patients from the Haartman Hospital for follow-up treatment.

Pikkarainen says if they stopped, non-corona care at Haartman could grind to a halt. Hospital bosses hope increased use of PPE at Laakso will help prevent the outbreak from getting out of hand.

Staff have been instructed to use face masks at all times, even when no patients are present, and to use FFP2-grade respirators when in contact with Covid-19 patients.

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