Reception centres prepared for coronavirus – infections found mainly in Uusimaa
The reception centres have prepared for the coronavirus with action plans. Because the centres are institutional, the exceptional situation has required new operating methods.
So far, 30 coronavirus infections have been found in reception centres. There are 40 reception centres in Finland; infections have been found in six of them. There are approximately 7,700 people registered at the centres, 4,400 of whom live in the reception centres. Most of the infections have been found in Uusimaa.
‘In the Nihtisilta reception centre in Espoo, the city’s infectious disease physician has made the decision to start more extensive testing due to the infections. We are co-operating with Luona Oy, which is responsible for the operation of the centre, and with the health authorities to manage the situation,’ Head of Section Olli Snellman, Finnish Immigration Service, reports.
The Finnish Immigration Service is tasked with guiding, planning and monitoring the operation of reception centres in Finland. The centres are maintained by parties such as municipalities, companies and the Finnish Red Cross. The Finnish Immigration Service is responsible for two state-run reception centres in Oulu and Joutseno as well as detention units in Helsinki and Joutseno.
All reception centres employ social workers and health care professionals. The Finnish Immigration Service works in close collaboration with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). The reception centres co-operate with the health authorities in their area.
Facility solutions and protective equipment are an important part of the preparations
The Finnish Immigration Service has been issuing preparation and operating instructions to the centres since January 2020. The instructions are evaluated and updated according to the situation.
Facility and accommodation solutions have been designed for the reception centres to accommodate possible quarantine and isolation situations. The centres have been given the opportunity to acquire additional separate facilities on a temporary basis, in order to implement the necessary arrangements.
‘It’s clear that the coronavirus also affects the clients and employees of the reception centres, even though a comprehensive set of precautions has been implemented. The centres often have challenging premises, but we’ve managed to lower the average occupancy rate of the centres, which has helped make the situation easier,” Mr Snellman says.
While the epidemic is in progress, as few clients as possible are being transferred between the centres.
The reception centres have been asked to purchase the necessary protective equipment. There is still a shortage of protective equipment, however, and equipment purchases must continue actively.
Everyday life comes first even during the coronavirus epidemic
The coronavirus situation is visible in the everyday life at reception centres in many ways. The cleaning of the centres has been intensified, and mealtimes have been staggered. Leisure activities at the reception centres have been temporarily reduced. The aim is to restrict personal visits to the reception centres, and outside visitors are prohibited until further notice.
‘The reception system is a preparedness organisation, and it has the ability to operate in changing situations. The centres have skilled and committed personnel. Right now the centres are focusing first and foremost on ensuring that everyday life continues and on managing the coronavirus situation as well as possible,’ Mr Snellman points out.
The reception centres give asylum seekers instructions on the coronavirus and the exceptional situation in several languages. For example, important information on preventing the spread of coronavirus, the exceptional situation in Finland and the restrictions on assembly has been provided in the applicants’ most common native languages. Asylum seekers always receive information from the personnel at their own reception centre, too.
Read more about the preparations of the reception centres in the newsroom on our website: Miten vastaanottokeskuksissa on varauduttu koronaan? (in Finnish) (9 April 2020)
Further information for the media
- Reception Unit, Head of Section Olli Snellman, [email protected], tel. +358 295 433 037