Corona situation update
In this blog you will find the latest Corona updates and links to recommendations for further reading. (Updated 13.1.2022)
Covid situation now:
Effects of omicron on healthcare carrying capacity and quarantines
Covid19 – the corona pandemic and its omicron variant – is spreading rapidly in our country and around the world. At the time of writing, almost 15,000 COVID-19 infections have been reported in Finland in the last day, with the omicron variant being the main virus throughout the country. Infectious physicians asses that the actual number of infections is many times higher than the number of infections detected by the PCR tests.
The rapid increase of COVID infections has put healthcare capacity to the test and has made it impossible to test everyone with symptoms or trace every infection chain especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Testing capacity has had to be allocated to risk groups and to health personnel dealing with risk groups. This development is also possible in other hospital districts as infections increase.
If the testing capacity is not regionally sufficient to perform PCR test to everyone with symptoms, the asymptomatic worker who doesn’t belong to any risk group will no longer end up in isolation with a positive COVID19 home test. Worker will be guided in voluntary isolation and normal sick leave.
In addition to testing, tracing activities have also been directed to high-risk infection situations. In areas struggling with tracing challenges, a person exposed to the coronavirus will no longer be placed in quarantine by an infectious disease authority, but voluntary quarantine of 5 to 10 days is recommended in these situations.
In the latest COVID update The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) outlined a new guideline to reduce quarantine to a minimum of five days. The length of the quarantine will therefore be 5-10 days, depending on the prescription of the infectious disease doctor. THL has also proposed transferring resources from tracing to medical care and vaccinations.
To avoid coronary infection, the things that are already familiar are emphasized:
- Vaccine coverage
- Working at workplace only as healthy
- Use of a face mask (FFP2 level mask especially for risk groups)
- Safety intervals and compliance with assembly restrictions
- Sneezing and coughing hygiene
- Good hand hygiene
- Increasing the use of home tests is recommended, for example, before visiting a person at risk. In the home test, the sampling technique is the most significant factor affecting the reliability of the test. However, especially in the case of the omicron variant, the result of the home test may be positive only a few days after the onset of symptoms.
How to act as an employer if …
- Worker has mild respiratory symptoms but is not at risk of serious coronary heart disease
- Home testing is recommended
- If the test result of the quick test is positive, voluntary isolation and a sick leave certificate for example from occupational health care
- Official test is not required if:
- A person living in the same household already has a confirmed coronavirus infection and the employee or employer does not intend to apply for a infectious disease allowance
- a formal isolation order is not required by employer or employee to receive a infectious disease allowance
- the employee does not need a certificate of COVID19f or the COVID-passport (the COVID-passport only shows a coronavirus infection confirmed by PCR test)
- Note that getting the test appointment might be challenging if the person is not in the core target group of the tests.
- If the test result of the quick test is negative, it is good to renew the test in consecutive days. Voluntary quarantine and sick leave certificate if symptoms continue.
- The employee has been exposed to the COVID, for example in a family circle, and is asymptomatic
- It is recommended to continue working remotely in the voluntary quarantine if the employee’s work tasks allow remote working. Sick leave certificate can not be written for asymptomatic employee.
- The employee’s child has been quarantined. The child requires the presence of a parent.
- If it’s possible, the employee stays home with the quarantined child and continues to work remotely
- The business trip requires a negative Covid19 test result, and there is a queue to the test points for several days
How to adapt to the situation as an employer
- Infectious disease allowance
It is good to talk through and guide things about infectious disease allowance in company. Do you want to apply for it in this situation? So far, no changes have been made to the Infectious Diseases Act.
- Sick leave policy
Heltti recommends extending self-reported sick leave to five days during a pandemic. If a sick leave certificate is required, the employer can accept a five-day sick leave certificate written by a nurse or occupational health nurse while the pandemic continues. By doing so, we can secure the operations of Heltti’s member services, and target medical work to our members who need medical care. We ask our client companies to notify our designated occupational health nurse by 19.1.2022 if the operating model presented above is not possible for you.
- Asymptomatic worker exposure and quarantine regulations for employees children
If the employee’s work tasks enable remote working, it can be agreed, that the employee may go into voluntary quarantine and continue working remotely. If work tasks require an attendance at the workplace or home conditions do not allow remote working, we recommend internal guidelines for the workplace on how to act in these situations. Sick leave is always based on illness, so an employee who is asymptomatic in voluntary quarantine or caring for an asymptomatic child at home cannot be issued with an sickness leave certificate.
- Business trips
When test capacity is tight, we recommend the use of test places specifically designed for passengers for COVID certificate (see above). Corona testing performed through these parties is first paid by the employee. We recommend internal guidelines for the workplace to reimburse the costs.
The latest recommendations for applying for corona testing
THL recommends home tests for persons with mild symptoms. You can find up-to-date instructions on applying for a CPR corona test on THL’s website.
When testing capacity is tight, we recommend the use of test places specifically for passengers (see above) for corona certificates required for business trips. To reimburse costs, we recommend internal guidelines for the workplace.
Up-to-date information on restrictions and other guidelines
- Regional State Administrative Agency’s Corona-page
- THL: The COVID-19 epidemic: regional situation, recommendations and restrictions (page is updated weekly)
- Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s guidelines for employers to prepare for a coronavirus epidemic (updated page)
Check out also Heltti’s Frequently asked questions about coronavirus
Corona events in a nutshell
Less than two years ago, alarming news began to emerge from Wuhan, China, regarding a new, easily contagious virus that causes serious forms of the disease, now known as Covid19, or coronavirus. The virus has since circulated around the world, in the form of several different virus mutants.
When coronavirus hit, the world was on its knees in an instant. At the same time, unprecedented collaboration began among professionals in various fields of medicine. In late 2020, we saw gleams of hope as several coronavirus vaccines passed extensive safety tests and received marketing approvals from the authorities.
The availability of vaccines was initially an obstacle to large-scale vaccinations. An abundant amount of monitoring data on vaccines and their safety has been accumulated. Undisputed evidence suggests that two vaccines provide excellent protection against a serious disease requiring hospitalization. In Finland, three of the four hospital stays in September 2021 were unvaccinated.
Finland, like many other countries, has been “shut down” for several episodes during the pandemic. Our government has built the so-called hybrid strategy for lifting off restrictions.