The regional COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup met on 7 December 2021 and stated that persons who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine have also contracted the virus and have been admitted to hospital – some have even entered intensive care. Persons who have been admitted to intensive care have had some underlying medical condition and have been elderly, and a long time has passed since their second vaccination dose.
At the beginning of the meeting, the situation assessment workgroup congratulated Pekka Suomalainen, the chief infectious diseases physician, who was awarded the decoration of a Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland by the President of Finland on 6 December 2021.
A COVID-19 epidemic was revealed over the weekend in Parikkala
There are currently less than five patients in the ward of the Parikkala wellbeing centre who have tested positive for COVID-19. All patients and staff members have been tested and will be retested in 2–3 days. No new patients are currently being admitted to the ward. In addition, the ward cannot be visited at the present time, unless the patient is in hospice care.
The deteriorated COVID-19 situation is reflected in the increased occurrence rate among the vaccinated population and the healthcare and social services staff. The Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) that originates from South Africa has already spread to many European countries and has also been found in Finland. It has been estimated that Omicron will overtake the Delta variant in the coming weeks due to its ability to spread quickly.
─ One suspected case of the Omicron variant has also been identified in South Karelia, but has not yet been confirmed. At the present time, there does not seem to be a risk of community transmission in the area, says senior physician Sami Raasakka.
─ Half of the people who are entitled to a third COVID-19 vaccination has received it in South Karelia, which is delightful, says the chief infectious diseases physician Pekka Suomalainen.
─ The strain placed on hospitals by COVID-19 patients has decreased slightly. Unfortunately, some of the patients with the severe form of the COVID-19 disease have passed away and there are also patients in the wards who are in poor condition and require a great deal of care.
Wastewater monitoring shows that the virus is circulating in large numbers among the population, which can be expected to be reflected in the occurrence rate over the coming weeks.
─ The occurrence rate has increased. Unvaccinated people have a roughly six times higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than vaccinated people. Therefore, their risk is remarkably high, when compared to the vaccinated population, says Sami Raasakka.
At the present time, the increase in the infections among school-aged children is highlighted. The number of new cases has increased throughout the region. People contract the virus from both family members and in connection to leisure activities.
89.3% of people living in South Karelia have received the first vaccination dose, 86.2% have received the second vaccination dose, and 8.9% have received the third vaccination dose. The COVID-19 passport has contributed to the wish of people to have themselves vaccinated.
The testing volume has increased significantly. A large number of people have been tested and the share of positive results has been around 5%.
The continuance of the operations of the Allegro train services has been confirmed and will resume on 12 December 2021. Only Finnish and Russian citizens can board the train. There will be a health instructor onboard on 12 and 13 December 2021, who will provide instruction and answer any questions.
The Regional State Administrative Agency forbids, based on section 58(1) of the Communicable Diseases Act, the organisation of all public indoor events that have more than fifty (50) participants in the municipalities of the South Karelia Social and Health Care District. This regulation will be valid from 5 December 2021 to 31 December 2021.
As an alternative to measures taken under the regulation regarding the restriction on the number and location of the participants, the operator responsible for the premises can require a COVID-19 passport from the customers and participants. In such a case, the COVID-19 passport of every participant must be inspected.
Eksote will submit to AVI its request on new restrictions aiming to slow down the epidemic by 16:00 on 8 December 2021. AVI will process the matter and the new restrictions will most likely become effective on 13 December 2021 at the latest.
The next meeting of the regional COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup will be held on 14 December 2021 at 13:00.
The valid recommendations and restrictions in South Karelia starting on 30 November 2021:
The regional COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup recommended to AVI on 30 November 2021 that it imposes restrictions on high-risk public events.
The situation assessment workgroup recommends that unvaccinated people do not, for the time being, participate in high-risk events.
High-risk events include the following, when organised indoors:
Remote working recommendation:
An extensive remote working and conferencing recommendation.
The use of a face mask:
A strong recommendation to use a face mask is valid:
Restaurants, cafés, and bars:
The opening hours, serving times, and customer volume of restaurants, cafés, and bars will be restricted in accordance with the instructions of the Finnish government.
Schools, educational institutions, and daycare centres
A strong mask recommendation applies to people aged 12 or older.
Private events and family gatherings:
A strong mask recommendation applies to people aged 12 or older.
The aim must be to keep leisure activity groups fixed so that they always have the same participants. The persons present must be recorded each time. The presence of parents in the leisure activity and dressing room premises is not recommended. Groups must also avoid contact with other leisure activity groups that gather at the same time.
Only symptom-free persons should participate in leisure activities. In leisure activities, a sufficient safe distance, good hand and coughing hygiene, and cleaning must be ensured.
Additional information for the media:
Tuula Karhula, Chair of the situation assessment workgroup, Director of the Health Services, Eksote, tel. +358 40 194 4936, [email protected]
Marjo Numminen, Vice Chair of the situation assessment workgroup, Director of the South Karelia Central Hospital, Eksote, tel. +358 40 127 4200, [email protected]
The valid regional recommendations and instructions can be found on the websites of Eksote and the municipalities:
City of Lappeenranta: https://www.lappeenranta.fi/fi/Kaupunki-tiedottaa/Koronavirustilanne
City of Imatra: https://www.imatra.fi/korona
The situation in the rest of Finland and the valid restrictions and recommendations of other hospital districts can be found at: https://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/information-on-coronavirus/current-restrictions/hospital-districts. The page can also be accessed through the link found on the Eksote website at www.eksote.fi/koronavirus
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