Spring & Coronavirus – Updates and viewpoints from Heltti’s healthcare professionals
The Coronavirus situation here in Finland has become more serious as reported cases have been on the rise. A state of emergency was declared by our government on 1st of March and many restrictions and recommendations were introduced. The main cause of current situation is the increase in cases caused by the Coronavirus variants, especially the UK Covid variant. The capital region has the highest growing spread of the epidemic, and the portion of the UK variant was as high as 46% out of all positive cornavirus tests analysed by HUS during week 6.
The new Coronavirus variants are more easily transmissible due to the changes in the spike protein making it easier for the virus to attach to mucous membrane. The UK variant is estimated to be approximately 1,5 times more contagious than the original COVID-19 and there are indications of a more severe clinical picture. Then again a transmission chain and common symptoms do not notably differ between the variants, and for some individuals the experienced symptoms may appear mild. Currently the virus is spreading vigorously among the working-age population.
Due to the contagiousness of the variant virus, a guideline for safe distance has been raised to 2 meters. In addition to safe distance it is highly recommended to wear a face mask whenever there are other people around. Restrictions and recommendations concerning gatherings as well as diligent hand and respiratory hygiene are essential in preventing the virus transmission.
We strongly advice to download Koronavilkku app on your mobile, in case you yet haven’t. During March an update is published for the Koronavilkku app, allowing users to get tested based on exposure notifications. Up until now, users who have received an exposure notification in Koronavilkku have only been encouraged to get tested if they are experiencing symptoms. Please read more about the update and new guidelines here.
Remote work and other working arrangements are recommended to avoid close contact and other risk factors. It is also very important to get Covid tested even in case of mild symptoms.
We are starting to reach a state where first responders, units treating Covid patients and residents of long-term care facilities have received at least the first vaccine dose. The order of priority is the same as before and currently risk groups are being vaccinated. Health care districts are distributing the vaccines to municipalities according to their population, and municipalities are in charge of organising inoculation themselves.
The EU is in motion in the vaccine market. Some EU countries are buying vaccines from i.a. Russia and China. Vaccine development is also taking continuous strides forward. This week in the US, authorities for medicinal products have accepted a vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson to be put on the market. The new vaccine differs from current alternatives by preserving in regular fridge temperature and needing only one dose. It will be examined by the EU authorities during the week 10 and many other new vaccines are in the development pipeline. There is definitely hope that the current vaccination pace will accelerate.
Your own choices matter the most
We’ve been living with a Corona for over a year now and we are all certainly craving back to normal life. Fatigue from this prolonged situation and restrictions is clearly in the air. Heltti gets a lot of questions about when people could expect returning to workplaces. Unfortunately, the time of “normal” has not yet dawned on us, and we are not able to predict the date or month. A positive aspect is that, compared to the situation a year ago, we know much more about the virus itself, best treatment processes have taken shape and there are already vaccines from several manufacturers, even though the availability of these vaccines could be better. We expect the situation and vaccination pace to improve, as new vaccines are in the pipeline and current manufacturers are ramping up their production capacity.
Each of us can influence the current Corona situation by own choices. Minding your own wellbeing, it is important to focus on the things that you are able to control and influence yourself. I’m especially worried about those who have had challenges even before Corona, as well as those who live alone and whose life is majorly limited within the four walls. Potential challenges the household may be facing with finances or childrens’ studies can also effectively drain battery power. As hobbies and social interactions are more or less at a standstill, the outside world is increasingly opening up through teleconferencing tools and new ways of staying connected. As we move toward spring and warmer weather, I recommend trying out new ways of working. Could some of the online meetings be held as walking meetings or otherwise outside, enjoying the fresh air and a take-away coffee? Anything that breaks the cycle and brings versatility to your work day is beneficial for your body and mind.
I challenge everyone to think about how you are keeping the spirit high at your work community, regardless of the circumstances. If you believe that your colleague might feel alone, or you find that something is weighing their mind, don’t hesitate to ask how they’re doing. We at Heltti are ready to help both individuals and work communities in this extension period of Corona battle. In addition to discussion support, you can ask us for more information and offers on e.g. Heltti’s intervention to the remote work apathy, or early support model training for team leaders. The most important thing is that you do not hesitate to ask for help.
Occupational health care and general medicine specialist
Responsible for Heltti’s health services
Creating a positive outlook and reflecting on the past
Tips for the emergency state from occupational health psychologist
The past year has been challenging for many work communities. Even though the future relating to Coronavirus is yet hazy, I recommend keeping our eyes and minds forward-bound. What appears on the horizon after the corona? Challenge your team and community to come up with post-Corona ideas on ultimate ways to celebrate the return to the office. Creating a positive future outlook and something to wait for – even without a clear schedule or date yet – will lift your spirits and help you cope.
It is also a good idea to reflect on the past year from the perspective of individual and collective development. What type of new ways of working and other innovations have we developed during remote working, and which ones we’d like to keep as part of our lives in the future? Could we use a hybrid model, in which we pick the best things from Corona time and implement to our normal, post-Corona life? Celebrate the small and big victories and give yourself credit. These are challenging times and we have been able to reinvent ourselves and resolve complicated situations – together. These hardships and experiences have developed our mental resilience, in both individuals and teams. We now obtain more tools and skills to face unexpected situations and succeed.
Occupational health psychologist
PhD in brain research