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THL extends family quarantine periods to 3 weeks

Long quarantine periods can be particularly difficult for families with children, according to a mental health expert.

Lapsi istuu sisällä portailla.
Quarantine can be difficult for kids, but an expert said that getting outdoors and keeping in touch with friends can help. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Mandated quarantine periods for family members living with a Covid-19 infected individual have been extended to three weeks, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Previously the quarantine orders were two weeks in length.

As the health authority issued its updated guidelines it also extended the quarantine period for people who may have been exposed to the virus from 10 to 14 days.

THL said such quarantines were mandatory but that those under such orders are eligible to receive communicable disease allowances.

The decision to extend quarantine times was due to the arrival of new coronavirus variants, which are thought to be more contagious than earlier strains, according to THL.

Although extended quarantines are scientifically justified in light of the ongoing epidemic, such rules could be difficult for families with children, according to Meri Larivaara, senior adviser at mental health organisation Mieli.

"An additional week is a long time to be isolated from normal everyday life. It's an endurance test," Larivaara said.

Quarantine quarrels

Families forced to stop daily routines during quarantines can cause friction, according to Larivaara, who added that quarantine-related family conflicts were seen last spring.

Under those circumstances tensions can escalate even in families that have gotten along well in the past.

"Not being able to meet others outside the family can cause stress [for everyone], even in happy and well-to-do families. People need other human contact, as well," Larivaara explained.

Being stuck indoors can be particularly challenging for young people, as breaking away from home and spending time with friends is an important part of adolescence, she said.

Larivaara said people under quarantine orders should spend time outdoors, given such activities are done under safe conditions. She also encouraged people to consider appropriate ways to keep in touch with friends and relatives outside the home.

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