Frequently asked questions

What is quarantine? How does the drive-in coronavirus test work? Why doesn’t Kymsote provide information openly about all the cases of infection? Answers to these and other frequently asked questions can be found on this page.

When should I make an appointment for a coronavirus test?

Coronavirus testing should be carried out without hesitation if symptoms are compatible with infection with the virus. Such symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, muscle pain, fatigue, runny nose, nausea and diarrhoea. You can make symptom assessment yourself using the service, Coronabot service or by calling the Medical Helpline, tel. 116 117 ‒ you will receive instructions on how to make an appointment for the test.

Why is the coronavirus sample taken through the nose?

For the detection of a coronavirus infection, a sample is taken from the nasopharynx, i.e. the upper part of the pharynx continuous with the nasal passages, using a cotton swab on a stick. The swab stick reaches the back of the nose, where surface cells are obtained from the mucous membrane. This is the same procedure as is used when other respiratory infections are being tested for. A sample from the nasopharynx is generally considered to be the most reliable form of sampling for the detection of coronavirus, although sampling of saliva or nasal mucus are also used to test for the coronavirus in some countries.

How does the drive-in coronavirus test work in practice?

As with other coronavirus tests, an appointment must be made in advance for drive-in testing. The test is carried out by driving to the testing point at the appointed time. A photo ID is used to verify the identity of the person being tested. The person administering the test takes a sample through the open window of the car, so that the person being tested does not have to get out of the car at all. If there are others in the car in addition to the person being tested, the use of masks is recommended for everyone in the car. The drive-in sampling points can also be reached on foot.

What do I do while waiting for the results of the coronavirus test?

Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people. If the test result is positive, the Kymsote communicable diseases authority will contact you, give instructions on self-isolation and will determine who has been exposed to the virus.

A member of my family has taken the test. What should asymptomatic family members do before the test result arrives?

If the rest of the family is asymptomatic, life can continue as normal until the result arrives. Those with symptoms must stay at home until the test result is ready. If the result of the family member’s test is positive, the rest of the family will be quarantined in accordance with the Communicable Diseases Act, which will be decided on by the communicable diseases authorities.

What is quarantine?

Quarantine is a restraint upon the activities or communication of persons with the aim of preventing the spread of a disease. An infectious diseases doctor prescribes a period of quarantine for persons who have been exposed to the coronavirus. In this case, the quarantine period is usually 10 days. When quarantined, close contact with people outside one’s own household should be avoided. Leaving the house is permitted, provided that a distance of at least two to five metres can be kept from other people. For example, it is not permitted to go to work, shop or engage in group hobbies when in quarantine. Quarantine prescribed by an infectious disease doctor cannot be shortened by taking a coronavirus test.

What if a family member is quarantined?

As long as the quarantined person does not show symptoms of coronavirus and has not been diagnosed with the virus, the person’s family members may continue to live normally in accordance with the general recommendations. They can go to work, shop and participate in hobbies, for example. Family members do not need to avoid close contact with a quarantined person, as they have only been exposed to the coronavirus. As soon as a quarantined person shows symptoms, they should make an appointment for a coronavirus test. In this case, family members are recommended to remain in self-quarantine until the test results are received.

What is self-quarantine?

Self-imposed quarantine is voluntary. It is recommended when a person is waiting for the result of a coronavirus test or has returned to Finland from a country where there is a high risk of coronavirus infection. Family members of the person waiting for the result of a coronavirus test are also recommended to remain in self-quarantine until the test result is received.

For outdoor activities and social situations, the same guidelines apply for self- quarantine as for prescribed quarantine for (see the reply in the section What is quarantine?).

What is isolation?

A period of isolation is prescribed for a person who has been diagnosed with coronavirus. In this case, the person is isolated from healthy persons. This is to avoid potential further infections. The person may be in isolation in hospital or at home. When in isolation at home, other members of the same household should also keep separate from the infected person, for example by staying in a different room or keeping a safe distance of at least 2 metres from the person. In isolation, it is not permitted for the person to go to a shop or pharmacy, for example. Instead, the person must ask for help or order products directly to their home.

What if a family member is ordered into isolation?

Family members of the person in isolation are quarantined. This means that they too should avoid contact with people outside the family. Family members should also avoid close contact with the person in isolation by staying in a different room or keeping a safe distance of at least 2 metres from the person.

How are chains of infection traced?

The main way to trace chains of infection is to interview the infected person and their close contacts if necessary. Infection tracing is carried out by trained infection tracers, who in Kymsote are mainly employees of the communicable diseases unit. The interviews cover the movement of the infected person and close contacts for one to two days before the onset of symptoms, or before test sampling if there have been no symptoms.

Why doesn’t Kymsote tell us where and when exposure to the coronavirus could have occurred?

Coronavirus infection is personal health information, and as a health authority Kymsote has a major responsibility to protect data belonging to individuals. There must be clear grounds for disclosing information about individual coronavirus infections and exposures. We will provide information about exposures ourselves or in collaboration with municipalities, for example, if it affects public services. In addition, we also inform the public if there is a need to reach strangers, such as those who have been exposed at a restaurant, shop or specific event. This solution is always made by the doctor responsible for infectious diseases. It is therefore worth remembering that exposures are primarily traced by interviewing the infected person, and the need for public information is assessed if or when the person has been contagious in a place and situation in which they are unable to identify those with whom they have been in close contact.

Why is the use of masks recommended – is there any certainty about its benefits?

Wearing a mask is one way to prevent the spread of coronavirus. A face mask is not an actual respirator, and does not effectively protect the wearer. The effectiveness of masks is partly based on as many people as possible using and maintaining them appropriately. Actual respirators and surgical mouth and nose protectors also protect the wearer, and are primarily intended for healthcare personnel. The mask recommendation is based on the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and their underlying research evidence. Masks are widely used in most countries, and in many countries they are even mandatory.

What are the basic level and acceleration and spread phases?

The situational overview group and modelling group set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has divided the situational overview of the epidemic into three stages: the basic level, the acceleration phase, and the spread phase. The classification takes account of factors such as the population base of the area. At the basic level, the incidence of infections is low and the proportion of native infections is low. During the acceleration phase, the regional incidence of infections, for example, has been raised and local and regional chains of infection are present, but the need for hospitalisation can be met without special measures. During the spread phase, infections spread regionally or more widely, the daily rate of increase in cases is over 10 per cent, less than half of the sources of infection can be traced, and the need for hospital and intensive care increases sharply.

Is coronavirus really a dangerous infectious disease?

Like other coronaviruses, the novel coronavirus identified in China in early 2020 may cause a mild but also serious disease (COVID-19). In Finland, severe infection caused by the novel coronavirus was added to the list of generally dangerous communicable diseases in February. An infectious disease is generally dangerous if the contagiousness of the disease is high, the disease is dangerous, and its spread can be prevented by various measures, such as quarantine and isolation.

Based on current data, people over the age of 70 are more susceptible to severe coronavirus infection than others. The risk of serious coronavirus infection may also be increased if the person has underlying diseases that significantly worsen lung or heart function or the body’s immune system.