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Second wave peak could be in two weeks — but remember these four things anyway

Hospitalisations for coronavirus infections in Finland may soon reach levels last seen during the spring's first wave.

Corona covid-19 hospitalisations
Numbers of coronavirus patients hospitalised during the spring and autumn. Finland's Institute for Health and Welfare THL began reporting hospitalisation figures on 25 March. Image: Source: THL / Derrick Frilund / Yle

The peak of a second wave of coronavirus infections may well be seen in Finland in a couple of weeks, just before Christmas, says Lasse Lehtonen, Director of Diagnostic Services at the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS).

New restrictions were introduced in the HUS district last week, as the development of Uusimaa's infection curves has been one of the country's most worrying in recent weeks.

“We know from previous experience that the number of infections will increase for at least two weeks before the restrictions are lifted,” Lehtonen says.

“The most worrying thing will be if the figures do not start to fall. That would signal that the restrictions have not been sufficient,” he adds.

Story continues after photo.

Lasse Lehtonen, Helsinki, 02.11.2020
Lasse Lehtonen, Director of Diagnostics Services at HUS, believes that with the current restrictions, infections can be reduced if guidelines and recommendations are followed. Image: Antti Haanpää / Yle

However, Lehtonen does believe that by following the current restrictions and guidelines, the figures will go into decline.

Here are answers to some of the most basic questions about current guidelines and reminders of why observing them are so important right now.

1. What is the right and wrong way to use a mask?

In contrast to last spring, most Finns are using face masks following strong recommendations issued in August by the Finnish government and the the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL.

Masks are effective in preventing the spread of the virus from an infected person to other people. At its best, the mask also protects the wearer from infection.

However, it is important to remember the correct use of a mask. In the video below, you can see what not to do with a face mask.

A face mask should only be touched when applied to or removed from the face. If the mask is touched during use, the virus can potentially spread by way of your fingers.

Also, be sure to remove the mask properly from your face by touching only the ear loops. Disinfect your hands both before and after putting on and removing the mask.

Remember to keep used masks separate from your clean masks, for example in a box or bag.

2. Why should I observes guidelines especially now?

The current infection situation is much like what it was in the spring. This is evident from a comparison of the numbers of people in need of hospital care in the spring and now.

Finland may therefore soon be in a situation where the number of people in need of hospitalisation approachs the spring figures because the number of infections is likely to increase for the next couple of weeks before the new restrictions are lifted.

It is also possible that the number of patients in need of hosåital care will grow even higher than in the spring if present restrictions are not effective.

3. Is it worth being afraid of different surfaces?

No, but keep in mind that the virus can possibly be passed via surfaces. However, such infections have not been confirmed due to the extreme difficulty of detecting them.

The coronavirus does not remain contagious on surfaces for long periods of time, although the virus itself may live on some surfaces for several days.

Indeed, the virus spreads mainly as a droplet infection from person to person.

According to HUS's Lasse Lehtonen, the best way to maintain peace of mind with regard to surface infections is to remember to wash your hands and hand disinfectant regularly.

4. Can the virus be transmitted by handling a cell phone?

In theory, yes, because the coronavirus remains contagious on surfaces. Therefore, you should wash and disinfect your hands regularly.

However, if you make sure you use your phone only with clean hands, you can use it more or less without worry.

According to Lehtonen, instead of avoiding surfaces, it is more worthwhile focusing on using masks correctly, keeping your hands clean, maintaining safe distances and avoiding crowds.

Avoiding contact genuinely reduces the number of infections According to Lehtonen, this was successful during the autumn in Vaasa, for example, where the rate of infections was brought down controlled by strict restrictive measures.

“It was rather quiet on the streets of Vaasa at that time,” Lehtonen says.

Lasse Lehtonen stresses that he would now like to see fewer people on the move in the Helsinki metropolitan area, as well.

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