According to the City of Helsinki, close to 200 COVID-19 diagnoses have been identified in Helsinki’s Somali-speaking community.

The Somali community celebrated their Independence Day at the Esplanade Park in Helsinki in July 2013. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The infections translate to 1.8 percent of the Somali community in the capital (10,803 Somalis at the beginning of 2019), compared with the 0.2 percent average among all of Helsinki’s residents. (651,495 inhabitants at the end of July 2019.)

The City of Helsinki and the metropolitan area hospital network HUS have monitored the reported spread of the coronavirus in Stockholm’s Somali-speaking communities closely, but until recently, it appeared that Helsinki was not experiencing a similar trend. Now, however, the rate of infections among Helsinki’s Somali-speaking community has quickly begun to rise.

In an aim to prevent further contagion, the City of Helsinki and HUS hospitals have stepped up their efforts.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, members of minority-language communities have been taken into consideration. The City of Helsinki and HUS hospitals have produced and distributed information in several languages about the measures one can take to slow down the spreading.

In addition, doctors, nurses and other professionals from the minority-language communities have been included in efforts to track the rate of infection in Helsinki, in order to better understand the spread of COVID-19 and the reasons behind the chain of infection.

Despite these measures, however, the number of infections within these communities—and the Somali-speaking community in particular—has continued to grow.

“I find the recent spread of infection among minority-language communities very worrying. The situation demands enhanced teamwork, continued development of multilingual services and effective targeted communications. We have entered into discussions with the Finnish Somali League about new measures to improve the situation,” says Mayor Jan Vapaavuori of Helsinki in a statement. “We also need to boost our cooperation within the entire metropolitan area, as this situation is most likely not limited to Helsinki.”

Picture on the front page: Prachatai/Flickr