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THL: Don't take sniffly kids to grandparents

Finnish health authorities say elderly people need to be protected from the coronavirus.

Kymsoten päivystysapupalvelun sairaanhoitaja työpisteellään kuulokemikrofoni päässään.
People in Finland are advised to call ahead before visiting a healthcare provider. Image: Pyry Sarkiola / Yle

Finnish parents are being advised to avoid asking grandparents to look after any child with cold symptoms, in an effort to stem the spread of novel coronavirus.

As of Tuesday morning there were a total of 40 coronavirus infections in Finland, with ten new infections confirmed overnight.

Thirty of these cases have been linked to travel, with ten cases of onward infection occurring in Finland.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said that asking older people to look after young children is not a good idea.

"Generally, to protect the elderly and other at-risk groups from viral infections, it's a good principle to follow," said Mika Salminen of the THL. "It's especially important when we're threatened by coronavirus."

Tuija Kumpulainen of the Ministry for Health and Social Affairs said that policy at present has less information than usual.

Seasonal flu is different as some people have some resistance from previous infections, whereas novel coronavirus is new to everyone.

"The disease should, as an unknown and potentially dangerous disease, be treated with healthy suspicion. We aim to limit the spread of the disease, because it is new and we don't yet know how it behaves."

Agency's advice

Those most at risk from coronavirus are the over the age of 70, diabetics and people with cardiovascular disease.

Finland's healthcare providers are advising people to call ahead before they visit a health centre.

Residents across the country can also call 116 117 if their area supports the service, which is available in English, Finnish and Swedish via that number.

The THL advice on protecting older people includes the following points:

  • Don't visit hospitals, care homes or elderly people's homes if you have even mild flu symptoms.

  • It's especially important to avoid visits if you have respiratory tract-related symptoms.

  • Don't take a child with even mild symptoms to visit grandparents (or other elderly people), and don’t ask them to look after sick children.

  • Wash your hands carefully with soap and lots of hot water as soon as you get in from outdoors.

  • If you suspect someone was exposed to coronavirus, tell them to call the local health centre or hospital, use the 116 117 number, or call yourself on their behalf.

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