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Julius Laine | 26.2.2020

Coronavirus – information and guidelines for Heltti members

Updated 30th of April 2020 – Read in Finnish

Heltti Member Newsletter: Coronavirus – Heltti’s Actions for Controlling the Epidemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. The flu season is starting to be over and there is not a lot other common pathogens of respiratory infections compared to the coronavirus. On April 24, the THL issued guidelines for testing for coronavirus in all individuals who have had symptoms of a respiratory infection for more than 2 days. It is still important to have good hand hygiene, cough correctly and comply with the restriction instructions issued by the Government.

What should I do if I think that coronavirus is causing my symptoms?

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include sore throat, fever and difficulty breathing. Other possible symptoms include headache and muscle pain. Based on symptoms, you cannot say if it is common flu or coronavirus.

According to THL new guidelines, patients with coronavirus matching symptoms persisting over two days and physician suspecting coronavirus infection should be tested for COVID-19. In public health care testing capacity has been increased and access to the corona test has got easier.

Coronavirus tests in public health care:

  • If you suspect coronavirus infection, you can use Omaolo service to assess your symptoms. You will get personal recommendations.
  • Call your own public health center or Medical Helpline 116 117, if you should be tested. Don’t go directly to any clinic.

Coronavirus tests in Heltti’s partner clinics:

Heltti has launched coronavirus testing through its partners. If your company’s occupational health care contract includes coronavirus testing (you can check with your company’s HR person), follow these steps:

  • If you suspect that you have been infected with a coronavirus, contact Heltti either through MyHeltti Livechat or by phone at Helttilinja 020 1470 770. You will get instructions for coronavirus testing or treatment.

Care instructions and treatment:

  • You can always contact Heltti if you need help or if you suspect another respiratory infection as the cause of your symptoms. If necessary, we can refer you to a doctor’s appointment at Heltti’s partner infection clinics.
  • Call your own public health center or Medical Helpline 116 117, if you or someone close to you develops severe symptoms such as shortness of breath or your general condition gets much worse. In case of an emergency, call 112.
  • If you belong to risk groups, call public health center / Medical Helpline 116 117 if you develop high fever (above 38) and you have sore throat or cough.

How does coronavirus spread?

It is not fully understood how contagious the virus is. Latest research shows that it is possible to get infected by a person 1-2 days before showing symptoms. Coronavirus is primarily transmitted through droplets, i.e. secretions from the respiratory tract. Coughing causes a particularly high risk. Direct infection is also possible if you touch a surface or material that an infected person has coughed on.

How to prevent coronavirus?

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (TTL) has prepared guidelines for workers to prevent coronavirus infection. These guidelines apply to Heltti’s health care professionals and other personnel, and we recommend that our members read and follow them as well. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) actively posts up-to-date information about the coronavirus situation on its website. This website is Heltti’s primary source of information, and we consider THL’s estimates very reliable.

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health: Guidelines for workers to prevent novel coronavirus infection
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare: Coronavirus COVID-19 – Latest Updates 

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare: The coronavirus situation has changed – the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare has updated its instructions

Both web pages are updated as TTL and THL receive new information. Heltti recommends that you follow these websites to keep updated.

The most important ways to prevent coronavirus are washing your hands and coughing correctly.
(THL: Information materials – Infectious diseases)

Always wash your hands:

  • When you come indoors
  • Before preparing and eating food
  • After using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching the same surfaces as someone who is sick
  • Before using snus

The best way to wash hands is to use soap and warm water

Cough correctly:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands
  • Discard the used tissue immediately into a mixed waste bin

When do I need a half-face mask (respiratory mask)?

A half-face mask is a good idea if you have been diagnosed with coronavirus infection and you are in public places where you are in close contact with others OR if a close family member or another person you are in close contact with has a coronavirus infection.

How to get antibody tests?

At the moment, we do not yet perform coronavirus antibody tests, as no test on the market is yet accurate enough (specific). At the moment, the accuracy of the tests is at best about 96%, so if 100 tests are taken and about 1 % of the population have had a coronavirus infection, the results would show 5 positive results of which 4 are false positive and only 1 true positive and these cannot be distinguished from each other. Read more in HS article (in Finnish).

Heltti is currently looking into the tests on the market and those under development, and we aim to enable testing as soon as the tests are expected to benefit Heltti’s members. We will inform you more about this later.

Julius Laine

Julius Laine: Toimin Heltissä yleislääkärinä, ja olen kiinnostunut erityisesti sairauksien ehkäisystä ja hyvinvoinnin edistämisestä. Sairauksien hoito on Suomessa varsin hyvällä tasolla, joten jatkossa tulisi yhä vahvemmin keskittyä hyvinvoinnin lisäämiseen. Hyvinvointi ja terveelliset elämäntavat kulkevat rinnan ja niiden parantaminen on erittäin tehokas keino ehkäistä sairauksia. Terveysteknologia ja sen hyödyt ja haitat lääketieteen ammattilaisille ja erityisesti tavallisille kuluttajille ovat lähellä sydäntäni.