Information about the coronavirus

Everyone should wear a mask in those public spaces and public transport where physical distancing is not possible.

The best ways to prevent coronavirus infections are good hand hygiene and common sense. People with respiratory conditions should take good care of their general health, medication, and treatment, as instructed by healthcare professionals.  

Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Avoid shaking hands with others. Cough into your sleeve or a tissue. Dispose of the tissue immediately after use. These instructions also apply to the prevention of other infectious diseases. Wear a face mask according to official guidelines. Download the Koronavilkku application to your smartphone.

For more information on face masks, visit our Coronavirus and face masks page.
For more information on the Koronavilkku application, visit www.koronavilkku.fi/en.

COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV2, a virus that infects certain types of cells found in multitudes on the lining of the bronchi. This is why COVID-19 specifically attacks the lungs.

Mild symptoms only include a dry cough. The more severe form of the disease, however, causes inflammation of lung tissue and severe pneumonia, which leads to oxygen deficiency and breathing difficulties.

For the moment, the long-term effects remain unknown. The most severe forms of the disease are likely to reduce respiratory function, at least for a while.

You should never, under any circumstances, stop taking your medication on your own. Always follow your doctor’s instructions.

Asthma inhalers, for example, treat long-term and varying inflammation of the mucous membrane in the lungs. You should not stop taking your medication.

At the moment, there is no comprehensive evidence of the effects of corticosteroids on the coronavirus infection. You should not start taking cortisone tablets on your own, unless you have been specifically ordered to do so by your doctor. Some asthma patients may have a cortisone tablet prescription for treating potential flare-ups. It is not advisable to start this medication without consulting your physician, unless you are absolutely sure that the symptoms are caused by your asthma getting worse.

Experts at FIMEA recommend paracetamol as the best painkiller option. There are some doubts about the suitability of ibuprofen for coronavirus patients, but the evidence is scarce. Paracetamol is known to be safe, so you can use it. If you have been prescribed a regular anti-inflammatory medication, do not stop taking it without consulting your treating physician first.

There is no need to hoard medicines. Keeping excessive amounts of medicines at home just in case is unnecessary. Normal preparedness is enough. If people do not hoard medicines, there will be enough for everybody.

As a rule, persons belonging to a risk group for COVID-19 and their families should go to work. If the job allows it, the employee may agree with their employer to work remotely from home. If necessary, occupational healthcare services can help with this.

The key things are good hand hygiene and social distancing. It is also important to ensure that no one goes to the workplace or other public places if they have symptoms of the flu.

It is safe to go to the store, as long as you pay attention to hygiene and keep a safe distance. If possible, you can also use home delivery services and ask for help from your friends and family.

It is still advisable to avoid spending time in public places, if this is not necessary. You can, of course, visit public places as long as you follow the current guidelines. Even if someone close to you belongs to a risk group, you can still visit public places as long as you pay attention to good hand hygiene and keep a safe distance.

Applying for sick leave in situations where visiting the healthcare centre is inadvisable:
You should contact your supervisor to find out whether a medical certificate is necessary under the exceptional circumstances.

If your occupational healthcare services are provided by a municipal health centre, contact the centre and ask if they can sort things out over the phone. Some healthcare centres, private healthcare providers and occupational healthcare services offer remote appointments.

Proper ventilation reduces the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

It is advisable to boost mechanical ventilation when a building is in use, particularly in schools and office buildings. Adequate ventilation should also be ensured when a building is not in use.

The intensity of ventilation can be adjusted according to the type of activity or the number of users.

Do air purifiers help fight the coronavirus? Air purifiers can help reduce the number of viruses in indoor air, as long as the purifying method is right, the purifying device is positioned correctly, and the device is maintained according to instructions.

Studies show that mechanical filtration (HEPA and ULPA filters) and adsorption (activated carbon filters) remove particles, including viruses, from indoor air.

UV technologies also eliminate viruses. On the other hand, they also generate pollutants, such as ozone, which has been found to be harmful to health.

Photocatalytic oxidation, plasma cleaning, and electric filtration also generate impurities that could be harmful to health. Devices that use the above technologies sometimes come with mechanical filtration and adsorption to eliminate the generated impurities.

Air ionisers are not at all suitable for eliminating viruses: instead of removing the particles, they ionise, or electrically charge, the airborne molecules, causing them to stick to surfaces, such as walls or tables.

You should pay special attention to where you place an air purifier. Never place the device so that it blows dirty air towards clean air. With the right placement and sufficient air purifiers, you can make sure that the devices cover the entire room. Always follow the instructions when maintaining and cleaning your air purifier.

For more information, visit our page on air purification and purifiers.
Read more about the coronavirus and indoor air safety on the THL website.

Everyone who suffers from a pulmonary disease should be particularly cautious. The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk of developing a severe form of the coronavirus infection. If you suffer from a pulmonary disease, the coronavirus infection could be more severe for you than regular flu.

People with severe lung diseases are at high risk for severe illness. Follow the instructions you have been given for potential flare-ups. Seek treatment if your shortness of breath does not go away with medication.

So far, there is no evidence to suggest that the coronavirus infection would be significantly different for people with respiratory diseases. In usual cases, the underlying respiratory disease has not worsened during the coronavirus infection. 

Chronic diseases do not increase the risk of catching the infection, but they do increase the risk of developing the more severe form of the disease. What counts is not the number of chronic diseases, but rather the nature of the chronic disease. If all the patient’s respiratory diseases are well under control, there is no increased risk. 

According to the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the risk of severe COVID-19 infection can be increased by chronic diseases that significantly impair lung or heart function or the body’s resistance to different diseases.

These conditions include:

  • chronic and poorly controlled pulmonary diseases
  • chronic and severe heart diseases
  • diabetes with target organ damage
  • chronic liver or kidney failure
  • chronic diseases that weaken the immune system, such as lymphoma
  • use of immunosuppressive drugs.

People above 70 are at higher risk of developing the severe form of the coronavirus infection. The coronavirus infection may also be more harmful to people who are morbidly obese (BMI above 40) or who smoke on a daily basis.

If necessary, your treating physician can assess whether your chronic illness is severe enough to put you at risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19. 

The severity of your lung disease affects your risk of contracting the coronavirus 
Poorly controlled pulmonary diseases increase the risk of serious coronavirus infection, especially in elderly people. For people whose asthma is well-controlled and whose lung function is normal, the risk is not as high as for people whose lung function has been impaired by COPD, bronchiectasis, lung transplant, or a similar reason.

Although the severity of the pulmonary disease affects the severity of the coronavirus infection, the most significant risk factor is old age. Most of the serious cases have been among people over the age of 70, with people over 80 being at the highest risk. Among children, there have only been mild infections. 

According to THL, sleep apnoea patients are not a risk group, unless they have other co-occurring diseases. Unlike asthma, for example, sleep apnoea does not involve inflammation of the mucous membranes.

For more information, visit THL’s webpage Risk groups for severe coronavirus disease.

If you suspect that you may have caught the coronavirus, contact your local healthcare centre or fill in a symptom checker online.

•     Health Village: Coronabot

You should seek treatment if your general state starts getting worse and your shortness of breath does not go away with the inhaler medication you have been prescribed. Always call your nearest healthcare centre, occupational healthcare services, or the Medical Helpline 116117 first. 

The general emergency number 112 is for emergencies only. Only people who need immediate assistance should call the emergency number.