Strategy for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing updated to prevent spread of disease particularly among risk groups
The national strategy for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing has been updated. The aim is to identify the causes of severe respiratory infections and to prevent the spread of infections particularly among groups of people who have a high risk of developing a more serious form of the disease.
According to the updated strategy, the most important criteria for testing are people’s symptoms and their need for care and treatment, the protection of groups at risk of serious illness from the disease and the safeguarding of the healthcare system capacity.
This means that tests should be performed on the following groups: patients with severe symptoms in accordance with standard medical principles, people with symptoms who belong to high-risk groups, pregnant women, and healthcare and social welfare workers. If the local testing capacity so allows, tests can also be performed on other people with a respiratory infection.
Like before, the aim is for people to be able to access a test within one day, provided that the updated testing criteria are met. People should receive their results within one day of the test. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure the availability of other medical examinations.
It is important everyone avoids close contacts on their own initiative — tracing resources are targeted at health and social services units
To manage the COVID-19 epidemic, it is essential that even mildly symptomatic people with respiratory infections avoid contact with other people for as long as symptoms persist, even if they have been vaccinated or had COVID-19.
It is important to encourage people to avoid close contacts while sick and use home testing as they are ways to slow down the spread of the epidemic and to reduce the burden on the healthcare system. People with COVID-19 must continue to self-isolate and follow the national and regional guidelines.
The updated strategy states that contact tracing resources should be targeted at the clients and patients of healthcare and social welfare services and people working in the health and social services units. This aims to prevent further infections particularly among groups of people who are at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
The national testing and contact tracing strategy is intended as a recommendation. It is possible to deviate from the primary criteria provided in the recommendation and from the issued guidelines if the physician in charge of communicable diseases in the municipality or hospital district decides so. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare is responsible for issuing national guidelines on testing. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for preparing the relevant legislation.
Mikko Pietilä, Medical Director, Hospital District of Southwest Finland, [email protected]
Taneli Puumalainen, Director General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected]
Anni-Riitta Virolainen-Julkunen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Medical Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected]