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Helsinki region preparing for restrictions as Finland reports highest ever daily cases

Health agency THL recorded 872 infections on Wednesday, the highest daily figure since the pandemic began.

Ihmisiä ratikkapysäkillä Helsingissä.
Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS) reported 452 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland (Avi) is preparing to update restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus infections in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and the Kymenlaakso region.

The new measures will be revealed at a press conference scheduled for Friday afternoon and are expected to come into effect from Saturday 14 August.

The announcement comes as health agency THL reported a total of 872 lab-confirmed Covid infections on Wednesday, the single highest daily figure recorded since the pandemic began.

Wednesday's figure included 452 confirmed cases in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), with authorities in the capital region adding that there has been an increased need for hospital care as more people are becoming infected.

"The situation has deteriorated further and we have concluded that the current restrictions are not sufficient. Of particular concern now is the potential strain on healthcare services," Senior Inspector Oona Mölsä of Avi's Health Care Unit told Yle.

The Helsinki Metropolitan Area entered the 'community transmission' or 'spreading' phase of the pandemic phase on Tuesday, which is the highest level on the government's three-phase classification table, while the rest of the Uusimaa region remains in the acceleration phase.

Mölsä said that the inadequacy of the restrictions currently in force were discussed at a meeting between Avi, HUS and the capital region's coronavirus coordination group, and it was agreed that new measures will need to be put in place to avoid a potential over-burdening of healthcare services.

"The measures will be the same as before, under the Infectious Diseases Act. No new types of restrictions have been provided for in the law recently," Mölsä said.

Previously, restrictions in regions considered to be in the community transmission phase of the pandemic included indoor events being limited to a maximum of 10 people and outdoor events having no more than 50 participants. Public and private spaces were also forced to close and hobbies were suspended.

However, it is still expected that students will return to classrooms in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa when schools reopen their doors next door after the summer holidays.

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