The opening of schools did not increase the number of coronavirus infections in Helsinki, according to a press release by the city.

Stock picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

During the two and half weeks of contact teaching before the schools’ summer holidays, coronavirus infections were discovered in eight schools across Helsinki. All but one of the infections originated from outside the school, according to a press release from the City of Helsinki.

After the schools opened, on May 14, infections occurred in nine pupils and two staff members. A total of 144 pupils and 23 staff members were exposed in the schools during the contact teaching period. The schools of the city have 44,260 pupils and 4,602 employees. When you also take into account private and state schools, Helsinki has almost 54,000 comprehensive school pupils.

The majority of those exposed have already ended their quarantine, but the situation of some of the exposed people will still be monitored for another week or so. Almost all infections originated from within the family. Only one pupil was probably infected at school, and even that took place in small group classes before the schools opened.

According to the press release, close contact was successfully avoided at school. Liisa Pohjolainen, the executive director of the education division at the City of Helsinki, says in the statement: “The staff at our schools did an excellent job of arranging contact teaching in such a way that close contact between pupils was kept to a minimum. People also did not come to school if they had any symptoms, which helped in the situation.”

Timo Lukkarinen, the medical director of health stations, says, “In order to be able to effectively limit the spread of the coronavirus in the future as well, it is important to seek coronavirus testing immediately after the appearance of the first, even mild, symptoms.”