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Ebola virus

The Ebola virus has become a serious epidemic in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The virus causes a haemorrhagic fever whose symptoms include high fever, diarrhoea, headache and bleeding.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is following the epidemic situation, and is leading measures against the contagion, and gives instructions in the epidemic area

Ebola is spread only via an afflicted patient and his or her secretions.  A person without symptoms does not infect others.  Ebola does not spread from one person to another through the air, as influenza does, for instance.

Experts say that it is very unlikely that the virus could cause an extensive epidemic in Finnish conditions.

WHO has declared the epidemic to be a public health emergency of international concern.

Finland is prepared for the Ebola situation

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for providing general instructions on the Ebola situation in Finland. The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) follows the development of the epidemic, makes evaluations of risks, and takes part in giving instructions to the service system for health. 

University hospitals are prepared to care for those who may have contracted Ebola.  Healthcare protocols have been updated and exercises have been held in hospital districts. The Regional State Administrative Agencies have sent instructions to private service providers of health care. 

 The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, and transport officials are participating in the preparations.

Ebola in West Africa

The Ebola epidemic has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in West Africa. Plenty of outside help is needed in the area, in order to prevent the spread of the epidemic. Ebola has been able to spread fast, because the healthcare system in the area affected by the epidemic is extremely inadequate.  There is a shortage of nurses and treatment materials.

WHO, the EU, and many humanitarian aid organisations are helping countries in the epidemic area to get the epidemic under control as quickly as possible.

In Finland the Foreign Ministry steers humanitarian assistance to the area affected by the epidemic.

In Finland officials, working under the guidance of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, are examining the possibilities of medical evacuations from the area affected by the epidemic. European countries are collaborating in the matter.  The primary responsibility for treatment of employees sent to the area affected by the epidemic is with their employers and insurance companies.

Travel

The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs recommends that people avoid all travel to Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as non-essential travel to Guinea. Although the possibility for a traveller to get infected is small, the poor function of transport and of other societal activities can cause problems for the traveller. WHO has not imposed travel restrictions on the area because that would hinder efforts to deal with the epidemic, and other activities on the spot.

Travellers moving around the area should observe instructions by health officials on avoiding infection as well as action to be taken after possible exposure.

Finland is well prepared to fight infectious diseases

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for providing general planning, guidance and supervision on the Ebola situation in Finland.  The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) serves as the expert institution in fighting infectious diseases.

Regionally the Regional State Administrative Agencies are responsible for guiding and supervising the fight against infectious disease. Hospital districts are the experts in fighting disease in their own regions.

Ordinary measures to fight infection as well as the tracing of those who have been exposed to the virus effectively prevent new infections. It is therefore very unlikely for the Ebola virus to spread in Finland or to cause an extensive epidemic.  

Further information

Head Physician Anni Virolainen-Julkunen, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, +358 2951 63324
Research Professor Mika Salminen, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health,
tel. +358 29 524 8454
Head of Unit Carita Savolainen-Kopra, THL, tel. +358 29 524 8884