Letter

Dear Sir/Madam, We are writing to you with information about coronavirus, to make sure that the information you have is as accurate and reliable as possible. The coronavirus illness is known more specifically as COVID-19. In this letter we explain how you can protect yourself from getting coronavirus. We also explain what to do if you think you may have the illness. The Government has declared a state of emergency in Finland due to the coronavirus outbreak. In this situation it is up to all of us to try to slow the spread of infections and protect those who are particularly at risk. 

This letter contains the guidance on the following: 

• How can I help prevent the spread of coronavirus?

 • What should I do if I fall ill or a family member or friend falls ill? 

• What should the over-70s do to protect themselves from coronavirus? 

If you have questions or need more information, please call the national coronavirus helpline on 0295 535 535. The helpline is open Monday–Friday 8.00–21.00 and Saturday 9.00–15.00.  The helpline is available in Finnish, Swedish and English. 

More information online 

Many government agencies and other authorities are recommending that you use their online services rather than visiting their offices, due to the coronavirus outbreak. The website Omaolo.fi has a set of questions (in Finnish and Swedish) that you can answer if you think you might have become infected by coronavirus. The question sheet also gives advice on what to do. 

More information about public services in Finland, including health service contact details, can be found on the Suomi.fi website.

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

Novel coronavirus – COVID-19 Protect yourself and your family from infection

Reduce the infection risk By good hygiene 

• Wash your hands with soap often and carefully. 

• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if washing your hands is not an option. • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. 

• Cough and sneeze into either your sleeve or a disposable tissue. Put the used tissue in the rubbish bin immediately. 

• If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not into your hands. Avoid close contact with others 

• Do not shake hands. 

• Stay one to two metres away from other people at all times. 

• Avoid large crowds. 

• Avoid travel. By protecting your loved ones 

• Do not visit hospitals or institutional care facilities. 

• Avoid visiting older people or persons who are chronically ill. If the visit cannot be avoided, maintain good hand hygiene and follow the cough etiquette. Protect your respiratory tract with a disposable tissue if no face mask is available. 

• If you have flu symptoms, stay at home.

The coronavirus usually causes mild symptoms that can be treated at home. If your symptoms are mild and you are not in a risk group, rest and recuperate at home. Stay at home for one more day after symptoms have stopped. Mild symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, muscle pain and fever. 

Those in a risk group should not hesitate to contact a health centre or a doctor. If you are in a risk group, phone the health centre without delay if you 

• suddenly develop a fever (38 degrees or over), and 

• you also have a sore throat and/or a cough. Always contact the healthcare services first by phone. 

If you develop serious symptoms, including shortness of breath, or if your overall condition gets worse, immediately phone your health centre, emergency care services or the Emergency Assist telephone service at 116 117. Call the emergency number 112 in urgent cases only

Contact information The National Telephone Advisory Service can help with general questions related to coronavirus and is available in Finnish, Swedish and English. It does not offer health advice. 0295 535 535 (normal operator fee)

Further information Read the latest coronavirus updates on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. thl.fi 

If you fall ill or are caring for an infected family member at home

The majority of respiratory tract infections are mild. A doctor’s diagnosis is not always necessary, as symptoms can be treated at home and will disappear in a week or two. This also concerns respiratory tract infections caused by coronavirus.

Washing your hands and coughing into your sleeve are the best ways of preventing the virus from spreading if you have it. 

When you are unwell, it is important to rest and drink enough liquids. To treat fever and pain, you can take over-the-counter medicines available at the pharmacy. 

If you have symptoms, you can infect others, and this is why you should stay at home for one day after symptoms have stopped. Do not go to work or take an infected child to day care until all symptoms have disappeared. Talk to your employer about being absent from work. 

Other members of your family may contract the infection. If you have older people living in your household, consider if they could be accommodated somewhere else, for example with relatives, until the patient is better. 

A person in a risk group should not care for someone who is ill. If you are in a risk group and cannot avoid close contact with a patient, take special precautions.

You can reduce the infection risk at home By good hygiene 

• Wash your hands with soap often and carefully. 

• Do this especially after touching a person who is ill or being in the same room with them, or handling tissues and laundry. 

• Put used tissues in the bin straight away. 

• Wipe surfaces that are touched frequently, including door handles and remote controls, with an ordinary cleaning agent every day. 

• Provide personal hand towels for everyone in the household. By physical distancing 

• Do not invite guests to your home while a family member is ill. • The patient should stay in a different room or at a distance of at least one meter from others. 

• If possible, you should not share a bed with the patient. 

It is normal to feel concerned about the coronavirus. Look after your own and your loved ones’ well-being by maintaining positive everyday routines. Rather than meeting face to face, phone your family and friends or send them a message. 

Further information Read the latest coronavirus updates on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. thl.fi

If you become seriously ill If you develop serious symptoms, including shortness of breath, or if your overall condition gets worse, immediately phone your health centre, emergency care services or the Emergency Assist telephone service at 116 117. Call the emergency number 112 in urgent cases only.

Advice for people over 70 years of age 

Avoiding exposure to coronavirus is especially important if you are over 70. This is because the risk of experiencing serious symptoms requiring hospital care, and even life-threatening symptoms, is considerably greater for older people than for younger age groups. The Government has therefore issued guidance on coronavirus protection for the over-70s. This states that people over 70 are required to refrain from contact with others wherever possible, which means quarantine-like conditions. The following detailed advice applies. 

If you are more than 70 years old 

• do not meet other people in person (face to face), and avoid going outdoors 

• ask family, friends or neighbours to help with shopping and other tasks outside the home 

• if necessary, ask your municipality for help with e.g. grocery shopping and pharmacy visits – if you have to go grocery shopping or visit a pharmacy or health centre, do so when there are fewer people around 

• you can authorise someone else to get your prescription medicine for you – sign in to suomi.fi/e-authorizations 

• follow the general advice on reducing the risk of infection • remember to move around at home as often as possible – if you exercise outdoors, remember to avoid contact with others 

• keep in touch with family and friends by phone or online.

Family, friends and neighbours can help and support you during this coronavirus crisis. Everyone has a duty to consider particularly the needs of older people and those who are vulnerable due to lower disease resistance. Lower resistance can result from having an underlying medical condition, for example.

If you are a family member or friend of someone over 70 

• avoid unnecessary visits to anyone over 70 years of age or in another risk group 

• keep in touch e.g. by phone or online 

• if a visit is essential, remember not to shake hands or hug, and not to have close contact, and also use a face mask or similar disposable protection to cover your mouth and nose 

• if you are an informal caregiver or a personal assistant, bear in mind the danger of infecting others – close contact with others should be avoided wherever possible.

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health