Where social distancing comes naturally: Finland is saving the coronavirus

Por Ann Kouranen

Helsinki (Reuters) – As many countries battle a second wave of the Corona virus, Finland has managed to stop the spread of new infections and push them to the lowest level in Europe, supported by the outbreak of social distancing. A natural thing for its citizens.

While its remote location in the north and having one of the least densely populated in Europe works in its favor in the fight against COVID-19, this also helps many Finns enjoy personal space and isolation.

“The Finnish personal comfort zone is probably a little wider than it is in other European countries,” said Micah Salmenen, Director of the Federation Authority.

On Sunday, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Finland for 14 days per 100,000 residents reached 54.2. The European average is around 576, and the country worst affected, Luxembourg, is 1,302.8 cases, according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

In the Eurobarometer survey, 73% of Finnish respondents said first-wave containment measures were very easy or easy to treat, including 23% who considered it to be “even an improvement” in their daily life.

Many were able to spend more time in nature or enjoy saunas in the summer cabins by the lake.

“We would like to be alone, wandering in the woods and swimming in the lakes,” said Christian Walbeck, director of the Finnish Association of Mental Health (Millie).

In April, the government’s initial efforts to contain the virus were backed by the highest rate of remote work in Europe, with nearly 60% of Finnish employees working remotely, according to the Eurofound study.

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About 2.5 million out of 5.5 million people have voluntarily downloaded the government’s contact tracing app, a rate that Salminen’s colleagues in public health authorities in other European countries could only dream about. .

“It’s actually a major factor in our strategy, which is based on a very low threshold for testing, contact tracing … and quarantine,” Salminen said.

After the first wave, daily COVID-19 cases decreased to nearly zero in July, but the government kept some of the most stringent travel restrictions in place in Europe, allowing Finland to enter the second wave of a very low base level of infections.

“On the bus, we sit in a free double seat,” said Juha, a teacher from the Capital District. “This is like normal social distancing for us and is, I think, how they teach us.”

(Reported by Anne Kouranen and Attila Laxer, edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)

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