Varhila rejects demands to update the coronavirus strategy

Varhila rejects demands to update the coronavirus strategy

Helsinki and 11 other municipalities in Uusimaa announced on Monday that they would no longer track contacts or issue quarantine orders to those exposed to the virus in schools or workplaces. They added that people with mild symptoms should give up laboratory tests unless they are at increased risk of developing severe forms of coronavirus disease.

The decision to suspend large-scale contact tracing was made because the rapid spread of the omicron variant has made contact tracing virtually impossible.

Municipalities also urged the government to update its epidemic management strategy to better reflect the current epidemiological situation.

Sanna Isosomppi, Chief Physician of Infectious Diseases of the City of Helsinki, explained Helsingin Sanomat that testing and contact tracing were effective tools in the earlier stages of the pandemic, when the number of infections was significantly lower. However, waiting times for tests have been extended to several days in some areas, which means that officials are not notified of infections in time to prevent further infections.

“Even if you act immediately, the communication cycle is usually over,” he said. “Exposure can take place anywhere, and retrospective quarantine is not helpful in fighting the epidemic.”

This development, he stressed, is hardly unexpected, as it was recognized as an opportunity in the 2012 Pandemic Preparedness Plan.

Varhila saw that the decision did not constitute a departure from the national coronavirus strategy, but rather a failure to follow the procedure under the Communicable Diseases Act. The strategy, he recalled, was updated last autumn and the emergency braking mechanism provided for in it has been used.

“There is still little information about Omicron, so it is difficult to update it from this perspective,” he wrote in an email to STT.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Source: The Nordic Page

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