Get back to work, wash hands regularly, wear masks and high-risk older folks keep from the rest…
Finland’s largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, is among the papers reporting that the government will meet later in the day to consider what to do about the restrictions it has imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
As the paper notes, we have managed to reduce contact with others, keep our distance and wash our hands so frequently that the spread of the virus is now flattened. At present, each infected person in Finland is passing the virus on average to just one other person.
If that rate of infection falls below one, the number of new infections will start to fall.
Helsingin Sanomat reports that Turku University Professor Kari Auranen, a member of epidemic modelling group at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) told a web seminar on Monday that taking into consideration that there is some immunity within the population, the rate of infection is now 0.8 to 0.9 in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District.
The paper speculates on three alternatives right now. The first is whether we can continue to “hide” from the virus until a vaccine is available. The second is if should we ease restrictions, let the virus run through the population, but in a manner that will not overwhelm the healthcare system.
The third is whether or not we should try to get back to our normal lives while action is taken to push down the infection rate further though comprehensive testing and infection chain tracing.
As Helsingin Sanomat points out, continuing the way we are right now is hardly at the top of the list of options. Alternatives, though, must be weighed in an atmosphere of uncertainty.
In recent days, the THL group modelling the progress of the epidemic has been hard at work crunching the numbers on what easing restrictions may mean to the spread of the virus.
Dr Tuija Leino, one of the group’s members, pointed out some restrictions have been lifted in other countries where infection rates have fallen, and she expects the same to happen in Finland. However, she told the paper that the decision is up to the government, and she is taking no stand on the issue.
Leino declined however to tell Helsingin Sanomat what the groups findings have been.
“The marching order is for the results to go to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, and to the cabinet where decisions will be made,” said Tuija Leino.