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Slippery roads and sidewalks lengthen surgery queues in Helsinki

Roads and sidewalks were forecast to become very slippery Tuesday evening on the south coast and throughout southeast Finland.

Loskaiset portaat ja ihminen kävelemässä
Image: Eveliina Matikainen / Yle

Meteorologists have issued warnings for extremely slippery roads in the Uusimaa, South Karelia and Kymenlaakso regions of southern Finland.

According to Yle meteorologist Matti Huutonen, a band of precipitation is moving in from the Gulf of Finland and Laatoka and will dump thick snow on the ground. A ban on overtime work by municipal employees protesting cuts to their holiday bonuses may limit snow ploughing on minor roads and sidewalks, creating slippery surfaces as snow freezes and hardens in the ground.

Lengthening queues at emergency surgery units

Officials at Helsinki’s Töölö hospital say that the slick conditions have created long queues that began at the beginning of last week. Division director Jarkko Pajarinen of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District HUS said that the current situation represents double or triple the regular patient load at the facility.

“We have an exceptional number of patients awaiting emergency surgery and the majority are injuries caused by falls,” Pajarinen explained.

The most common forms of injuries include fractures of the humerus [in the arm], ankles and legs. Surgical procedures are performed at the Töölö hospital, while smaller emergency units offer non-surgical treatment.

“There might be even longer queues there,” Pajarinen noted.

He predicted that even if the current conditions improve, it would take several days to reduce the queues of patients awaiting surgery.

Slippery roads in forecast

Yle’s Huutonen said that snow flurries could dump up to ten centimetres of snow on the ground, making for icy roads overnight.

Heavy snowfall was reported in parts of southern Europe such as France and Spain, and even further south in Morocco and Algeria. In the Spanish capital Madrid, flights were delayed because of the weather conditions.

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