kaksi nuorta ja kännykkä.
Koronaepidemian pitkittyminen rasittaa monia.

The situation assessment workgroup is worried about the coping of the population with the recommendations

The regional COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup of South Karelia stated at its meeting on 26 January 2021 that the epidemic is still in the acceleration phase in South Karelia. The three stages of an epidemic are the baseline, acceleration, and spreading phases.

The restriction issued by AVI, based on which gatherings must be limited to 20 people and which is applied to all indoor and outdoor events, including, as a recommendation, leisure time activities, will remain in force until the end of January. The regional situation assessment workgroup previously issued a restriction that limits private gatherings to 10 people when South Karelia entered the acceleration phase. Based on preliminary information, AVI will keep a similar restriction in force until the end of February.

The situation assessment workgroup hopes that the residents will follow the instructions provided on the prevention of the coronavirus epidemic carefully in South Karelia.

– The team sport restrictions that were issued last week have raised questions. It has been requested that the permitted number of people be increased to around 25 persons in team sports to keep the training meaningful. However, there are good grounds for the restrictions, and AVI’s restriction that limits gatherings to 20 people is also applied to leisure time activities that are conducted outdoors. Any mass exposures will place a strain on our infection tracking system, which creates a risk that not all cases can be tracked. This increases the risk of entering the spreading phase. This would mean even more strict restrictions, says the chair of the regional COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup Tuula Karhula.

The mask recommendation must be taken seriously

The use of masks is at a good level in schools in South Karelia. It has been understood that contact teaching is only possible in primary education if children over 12 years of age wear masks.

In public transport, attention must continue to be paid to the use of masks and relaxing this recommendation is not an option. In public transport, it is recommended that all persons over 12 years of age use a mask. In school transportation, the mask recommendation applies to everyone. Masks can, naturally, also be worn by younger children.

– There is no reason why younger children could not also wear a mask, as long as they understand the matter sufficiently well, says Karhula.

In shopping centres, the use of masks has decreased worryingly among young people.
– Young people like to hang out in large groups, where safe distances cannot be maintained and masks are not used either because they have been left home or because they are not considered to be necessary. COVID-19 cases are not always updated on the table maintained by Eksote in real time, for which reason checking the table every day can give a false impression of the actual number of cases. Figures are updated on the table based on the information we receive. In addition to the Huslab tests that are made in the Eksote area, we receive information through occupational healthcare service providers, private operators, and from the healthcare districts, says Karhula.

The situation assessment workgroup hopes that the prospect of restoring some level of normality quicker will motivate people to use masks. Maintaining a two metre safe distance should also be observed, where possible.

As regards secondary education, the ratio between remote and contact teaching will be assessed based on the need

It is recommended that remote teaching be continued in secondary education until 28 February 2021. In the second-level, contact teaching is considered each week now that the last year students in upper secondary schools are starting their study break. The new variant causes uncertainty in the coronavirus situation, so contact teaching will only be restored where possible.  Municipalities of the region prepare for changes in the situation by preparing their own plans. Education organisers can specify, independently, which contact teaching they consider to be necessary.

The valid regional instructions can be found on the websites of Eksote and the municipalities:

Eksote: https://www.eksote.fi/Koronavirus/
City of Lappeenranta: https://www.lappeenranta.fi/fi/Kaupunki-tiedottaa/Koronavirustilanne
City of Imatra: https://www.imatra.fi/korona
Lemi: https://leminkunta2020.lianacms.com/ajankohtaista/koronatiedotteet.html
Luumäki: https://www.luumaki.fi/koronavirustilanne-tietoa-ohjeita-linkkeja
Parikkala: http://parikkala.fi/fi
Ruokolahti: https://www.ruokolahti.fi/suomeksi/Kuntatietoa/korona
Rautjärvi: http://www.rautjarvi.fi/fi
Savitaipale: https://www.savitaipale.fi/
Taipalsaari: https://taipalsaari.fi/fi/Koronavirustilanne

On 1 December 2020, the situation assessment workgroup decided to issue the following recommendations that will remain valid from 3 December 2020 to 28 February 2021. These recommendations were last supplemented on 19 January 2021. On 26 January 2021, their validity was extended to the end of February 2021. The recommendations will be applied to the authorities, the general public, business operators, and education organisers:

Private events:
Private events must have a maximum of 10 participants.

Education organisers:
It is recommended that secondary education shifts to remote learning starting on 7 December 2020, except for any contact teaching that is considered to be necessary by the organiser of the education. It is recommended that remote teaching be continued until 28 February 2021.

Early education and basic education will be continued as before.

The mask recommendation applies to all persons aged 12 or over, and to all school transportation.

A mask recommendation will be given to education organisers, also in school transportation. The education organiser must provide masks for children and young adults whose school transportation is their responsibility. Children and young adults who come to school by using public transport must acquire the masks themselves.

Public premises:

Events of the libraries will be cancelled and it is recommended that social premises, such as newspaper reading rooms, be closed. Book lending and returning activities will continue. The customers are requested to stay in the library premises only for the period of time that is necessary and to favour advance reservations. Wearing a mask in the library premises is strongly recommended.

The number of customers in museums and youth premises is limited to 20. It is recommended that youth activities be partly moved online, but youth premises can be kept open at the discretion of each municipality, when the prohibition of gatherings of over 20 persons is observed.

Group activities:

It is recommended that indoor group activities for people over 20 years of age be interrupted in team and contact sports.

Indoor and outdoor group activities for children and young people can be continued subject to careful consideration, when the prohibition of gatherings of over 20 persons is observed. Risks typical of the type of sports must be observed in group activities. If leisure time activities are not disrupted, the instructions of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, based on which it must be possible to avoid close contact between the participants and the persons bringing the children to the location, must be observed.

To secure the training of professional and competitive athletes, training can be continued if it is safe and it is possible to comply with the gathering restrictions and the instructions provided on gatherings. The maximum number of athletes that can be present simultaneously is 20.

Matches and playing

If matches/games are played without an audience, they are not public events. This means that such matches are not forbidden based on the regulation of the Regional State Administrative Agency.

If there is an audience, the regulation of the Regional State Administrative Agency and the need to limit gatherings to 20 people will apply. When the audience is separated from the players and the maintenance personnel (e.g., in a separate auditorium), the 20-person restriction is applied separately to the audience and the players, the latter of which includes referees and maintenance personnel.

Travelling:

Travelling between Finland and Russia must be avoided.

It is recommended that all travelling to areas that are in the spreading phase be avoided. In particular, travelling should be avoided to areas where the coronavirus situation is worse than in South Karelia. Travelling to ski centres in the North of Finland and abroad should also be avoided. Similarly, e.g. tournament trips between regions are not recommended.

Remote working:

It is recommended that all employers in South Karelia organise remote working in all work tasks that can be completed remotely, even temporarily. If remote working is not an option, it is recommended that the employer advices the employees to use a face mask in all work premises, even when safe distances can be maintained. Meals and coffee breaks must be staggered. Work and business trips and contact teaching events are not recommended.

Mask recommendation:

The mask recommendation is valid in public transport, including school transport and taxi drivers and customers.

In other respects, the mask recommendation of the acceleration phase is applied to all persons aged 12 and over, in accordance with THL’s instructions:

• Persons who are to be tested for coronavirus when on the way to the testing location and before the result is known, if they must leave home for a necessary reason.

• Passengers arriving to Finland from a high-risk area, when they move from the point of arrival to quarantine or if they must leave home for a necessary reason.

• In primary education from the sixth form onwards, in secondary education (including upper secondary schools), and in higher education institutions.

•  In all work communities, and indoor leisure time activities and voluntary work, when there are several people operating and present in the same premises.

• In public indoor premises and public events (Stores and shopping centres, post offices, banks, libraries, and other similar indoor premises / Premises used for sports and exercising and related auditoriums (at the very minimum, common premises and dressing rooms) / Swimming pools, spas, and saunas / Concert halls and other premises used for performing live music / Cinemas and other premises used for the showing of movies and other similar audio-visual works / Museums and galleries / Amusement and theme parks and tourist attractions, if they include indoor premises / Premises used for gambling and betting).

Customer service points must be equipped with plexiglass shields. Employers must provide masks or protective face shields for customer service workers who work less than 2 metres from other people.

Events:

The organisation of events is not recommended. During the acceleration phase, events of the maximum of 20 people can be organised if it is possible to comply with the instructions provided by THL and the Ministry of Education and Culture on safe distances and hygiene practices precisely and in all respects.

Further information for event organisers on the Regional State Administrative Agency’s website: https://avi.fi/usein-kysyttya-koronaviruksesta

Instructions for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in connection to public meetings and assembly, and in public premises: https://minedu.fi/documents/1410845/22330894/Ohje+yleis%C3%B6tilaisuuksiin+yleisiin+kokoontumisiin+ja+julkisten+tilojen+k%C3%A4ytt%C3%B6%C3%B6n+21.9.2020.pdf/bef30f76-8187-9d78-1444-bb0686c8eeb6/Ohje+yleis%C3%B6tilaisuuksiin+yleisiin+kokoontumisiin+ja+julkisten+tilojen+k%C3%A4ytt%C3%B6%C3%B6n+21.9.2020.pdf?version=1.4&t=1604562383408

The situation in the rest of Finland and the valid restrictions and recommendations of other hospital districts can be found on the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare website under Regional situation. The page can also be accessed through the link found on the Eksote website at www.eksote.fi/koronavirus

The current stage of the epidemic in South Karelia is specified by the infectious disease authorities, together with the regional COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup. The South Karelian COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup includes representatives of the South Karelia Social and Health Care District, the municipalities, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Regional State Administrative Agency, and the local ELY Centre. In addition to the number of and the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the stage of the epidemic depends e.g. on the traceability of infection chains and whether the virus was acquired within or from outside the region. The epidemic situation can change rapidly locally or regionally, even when the national situation is stable. The local COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup meets once a week, unless more frequent meetings are required.

 

Additional information for the media:

Tuula Karhula, Chair of the situation assessment workgroup, Director of the Health and Elderly Services, Eksote, tel. +358 40 194 4936, tuula.karhula@eksote.fi

Kristiina Kapulainen, Secretary of the situation assessment workgroup, Head of Safety and Preparedness, Eksote, tel. +358 40 651 1791, kristiina.kapulainen@eksote.fi