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Wednesday’s papers: Flattening the curve

Finland’s press on Wednesday looks into ways to contain novel coronavirus.

Katuun maalattu Stay-Home! -teksti
Helsingin Sanomat looks into the impact that social distancing can have on the spread of novel coronavirus. Image: Lukas Barth-Tuttas / EPA

Helsingin Sanomat uses a number of different graphics in this article to explain how "effectively social isolation prevents the spread" of the coronavirus. The idea, HS writes, is very clear: the virus spreads via human contact, therefore if contacts decrease, the virus loses its ability to jump from one person to another.

In the first graphic, where there are no attempts made to contain the spread of the virus, the rate of infection is rapid. Without any restriction, the infection rate grows exponentially and can lead to one infection causing as many as 244 new cases within a month -- according to this calculation by mathematician and epidemiologist Adam Kucharski.

The second, third and fourth graphics show the impact that various containment strategies -- such as quarantine and social distancing -- can have on the rate of infection. Cutting the infection rate in half, from 2.5 in scenario one to 1.25 in the subsequent scenarios, would dramatically reduce the rate of infection.

This reduction, from 245 new cases per month to four, would be a "tremendous achievement", according to HS, which adds that the "inspiration" for the article came from this similar piece in the Washington Post.

Finnish researchers work on coronavirus vaccine

Tabloid Iltalehti reports on the efforts of Finnish researchers to develop a vaccine designed to protect against the coronavirus. Developing vaccines can be slow work, the tabloid writes, so researchers are also searching for medicines already approved in Finland that might prove to be effective against novel coronavirus.

IL quotes Anu Kantele, Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Helsinki and Director of the MeVac Vaccine Research Center, as saying that more urgent solutions are being sought as the development of a new vaccine is estimated to take up to 18 months.

"We now have a consortium of researchers investigating whether the drugs currently registered have any effect on the coronavirus," Kantele tells IL.

One way to potentially hasten the development of the vaccine would be to make research money available quickly and effectively. IL writes that Prime Minister Sanna Marin last week pledged five million euros to be distributed to researchers for the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

"This should be done quickly," Kantele tells IL, adding that scholarships and other traditional funding paths are now too slow.

Healthcare workers return to work

Continuing the more upbeat tone, Jyväskylä-based Keskisuomalainen reports that a patient suspected to have novel coronavirus -- which led to the quarantining of 50 healthcare workers in the city’s Central Hospital -- has tested negative.

Kati Seppänen, the hospital’s Services Director, tells KSML that the return of 50 employees to their jobs is a huge relief when the city’s resources are under pressure.

"This will make it easier for us to prepare for the actual epidemic, as we will be able to carry out our planned holiday and rest periods as well as normal working hours before any more patients are transferred to us," Seppäänen said.

The quarantined workers represented nearly a fifth of the hospital’s staff, according to the paper.

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