The Helsinki Uusimaa Hospital Authority (HUS) has announced that patient visits will not be allowed in hospitals and units in the Helsinki region between 2 and 20 December.
According to a statement from HUS, the regional health authority hopes to reopen hospitals to visitors during the Christmas holiday period.
"HUS will restrict visitation to patients to protect both patients and staff from infection," said the regional authority in view of the strong increase in coronavirus cases across the country, but especially in the metropolitan area.
On Wednesday, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 970 new infections and 9 deaths in the last 48 hours.
According to HUS, the restricted visitation means that all visits by patients’ family and friends to HUS facilities are prohibited in principle.
However, the hospital authority allows some exceptions to the prohibition of visits. "In some extraordinary circumstances, units may consider allowing exceptions," for example in cases of severely ill or dying patients and in pediatric and labor units.
Visiting a critically ill patient or a patient in end-of-life care may be arranged for the patient's family and friends. However, this needs to be agreed with the care unit," the authority warns.
If a patient requires an assistant, one person is allowed to accompany the patient throughout the patient’s visit at an emergency department or an outpatient clinic.
The visitor restrictions do not apply to symptom-free family members of child patients. One guardian may accompany a child to the hospital and one guardian at a time may stay at the inpatient ward with the child. Additionally, delivery and maternity wards, maternity outpatient clinics and prenatal screening units allow one support person or spouse.
Visitors must be symptoms-free and must wear a surgical face mask throughout their stay in the hospitals when accompanying or visiting a patient.
"We hope to curb the epidemic and continue visitations in hospitals over the Christmas holidays," said Chief Medical Officer Markku Mäkijärvi.