Coronavirus latest: new suspected cases, trains disinfected, government task force

One passenger on a train from Tampere to Jyväskylä self-reported their symptoms to staff on board, and now all the carriages the passenger was using are being disinfected.

File picture of VR train at Helsinki Central Railway Station / Credit: News Now Finland

UPDATE: On Wednesday evening HUS confirmed that a Finnish woman has been diagnosed with Covid-19 virus. She apparently caught it while in Milan. HUS says the woman is “feverish, but in good shape” in Helsinki. 

Health authorities in Central Finland and south-east Finland are testing two patients for the possible coronavirus.

It brings the number of people tested for the Covid-19 strain, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, to more than 30 in Finland. So far, there has only been one confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in a woman who visited Lapland from China.

One of the patients, in Jyväskylä, is being tested after self-reporting symptoms to staff on a train.

The passengers got on a local train at Helsinki Airport and traveled to Tikkurila where they caught a Pendolino to Tampere and then changed for a Jyväskylä connection on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t call it a suspected case, I would call it a possibly coronavirus-related case” says Tatu Tuominen, VR’s Director of Communications.

“On the last part of the trip they figured they had some sort of symptoms, and announced to the officials on board that they felt like the symptoms were similar to those connected with coronavirus” he tells News Now Finland.

VR has already taken some health precautions just in case, by taking the train carriages out of service to be disinfected.

“Just because the situation is so delicate at the moment, and there is a lot of media coverage on the story, we figured that just in case we would wash the trains that this person used” Tuominen explains.

File picture of woman wearing anti-pollution / anti-germ face mask / Credit: iStock

New government action

Meanwhile the government has convened a special task force to make sure various authorities are prepared for any spike in Covid-19 cases.

The task force is being coordinated by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, “to maintain situational awareness in the field and coordinate preparedness measures.”

The ministry will work closely with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL, as cooperate with the World Health Organisation WHO and EU member states, as well as the EU’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control ECDC.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) met with coalition party representatives today and plans to brief parliament on Thursday with the latest information.

“We have followed the situation closely, and Finland is well prepared” she writes on Twitter.

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