New guidelines for the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District are in line with national recommendations announced Thursday, which can be introduced depending on the state of the epidemic in different parts of the country.
The Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District, Finland’s biggest public healthcare provider, says they now recommend that face masks, covering nose and mouth, should be worn more widely in public places.
“HUS experts recommend that face masks be used in public spaces such as shops, theaters, concerts, hospitals and public transport” says HUS Chief Physician Markku Mäkijärvi.
The HUS recommendation, given at a Friday briefing, is in line with new guidelines announced on Thursday by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL as the capital city region enters an ‘accelerated phase’ of the epidemic meaning between 10 and 25 confirmed Covid-19 tests per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.
The guidelines, which are only strong suggestions and are not legally mandated, suggest that masks are worn in shops and shopping centres; post offices, banks and libraries; facilities used for exercise or sport, or places where spectators watch sports events; swimming pools, spas and the public areas or changing rooms in saunas; churches, concert halls, live music venues, cinemas, museums and art galleries; amusement parts indoors and outdoors; festivals and indoor markets; conventions and exhibition spaces.
“We now wanted to raise the issue when the number of infections, exposures and also the number of patients in hospitals has started to increase” says Mäkijärvi.
Although THL recommends that students wear face masks during the accelerated phase, HUS is not yet calling for that to happen – but could update this in the coming days or weeks.
The THL rules can be brought into place at different times by different hospital districts depending on the state of the virus in those particular locations
Nine hospital districts meet the criteria for this ‘accelerated phase’ including Central Pohjanmaa; Central Finland; Pirkanmaa; Kanta-Häme; Päijät-Häme; Kemenlaakso; South Savo; Southwest Finland; and Uusimaa.
THL’s Chief Physician Taneli Puumalainen says the low numbers of people currently using masks are due “partly an information issue, but to a large extent this is also an attitude issue. The mask’s recommended use must be taken seriously. We should all follow it” he says.
These latest guidelines on wearing masks come as cases of coronavirus continue to rise; as infection chains become increasingly difficult to trace; as a growing proportion of positive tests are returned; and as coronavirus cases are being detected in more hospital districts than before.
Actu monde – FI – HUS: Start wearing face masks in shops, banks, libraries, church and more | News Now Finland