Sunday. 14.04.2024

On Monday night Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori sent a Twitter message which criticized the government.

Vapaavuori said, “I find it unfortunate that the government does not want to have a dialogue with the leadership of big cities. However, in a situation where the crisis is largely managed at the basic level, ie in municipalities and hospital districts.”

According to Vapaavuori, the speeches of the government and the reality at the municipal level do not meet. The government has repeated that there is enough protective equipment. But in reality in the metropolitan area, the situation is different.

At a government press conference last Wednesday, 1 April, Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen said that the situation with protective equipment is good nationwide and only in individual areas there is a need for equipment replenishment.

However, the situation in Helsinki looked much gloomier, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The following day, on 2 April, Helsinki sent a letter to Kirsi Varhila, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM), informing the Finnish Government that the situation in Helsinki was very difficult regarding the number of protective equipment.

According to the letter, the worst shortages in Helsinki are, among other things, protective jackets, IIR-class mouthguards and goggles. The list also includes plastic aprons, surgical class II mouth-nose pads, and FFP2 and FFP3 class mouth-nose pads.

Helsinki reported several times

The letter emphasized that Helsinki had reported its difficult situation to the state on several occasions, but very little had happened.

The letter mentioned a meeting held on 27 March, which was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the Center for Security of Supply and the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS).

The letter stated, “At that meeting, certain procedures were jointly agreed, which have since been largely not implemented by the state.”

Not enough protective equipment

Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health announced that the Finnish security of supply warehouse had been opened. 

Although the safety deposit box was opened, concerns about the number of protective equipment have not disappeared. Several hospital districts and organizations representing health care workers have reported a lack of protective equipment.

According to The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL) models, the coronavirus epidemic in Finland will last for some more months.

In an interview with Yle on Saturday, THL's director Mika Salminen reminded that Finland is still in the early stages of the epidemic. However, there is already a shortage of protective equipment in some places. 

Lasse Ilkka, a specialist at the Ministry's preparedness unit talked to Helsingin Sanomat and said, “If all purchases go as planned, the equipment will suffice. But those estimations are uncertain. There would be a shortage if no additional purchases had been made and state production had been started. Security stocks alone would not have enough equipment for the whole epidemic.”

"The consumption of protective equipment has now been clearly faster than the pace at which new equipment has been available in Finland," stated Ilkka.

‘We will see when the container is open’

The first cargo of protective gear purchased from China to be flown to Finland on Tuesday did not appear to be a strange lifeline. There should be more than a million surgical mouth guards and more than a hundred thousand respirators for medical use in the hold, according to the Security of Supply Center.

At the current rate, these equipment would have been used in less than a week.

Authorities do not know what Finland will get. “For example, the masks may be in a different quality than agreed, or there may be fewer of them,” said Tomi Lounema, CEO of the Center for Security of Supply. "Ultimately, it will be revealed when a container is opened in Finland and seen."

Prior to commissioning, the Service Security Center tests that the masks provide the correct protection. If they don’t protect, then there are no masks.

“We have to take risks when we make purchases. The commercial situation is such that in practice it is not possible to complain if the products do not match the order.”

12 aircraft ordered

According to Lounema, 12 aircraft have been ordered, and several aircraft are expected to arrive in Finland next week. There is no certainty about this either and Lounema is careful not to make promises.

He said, “We can't know if the equipment we bought is there at all.”

Helsinki Mayor warns: amount of protective equipment is critical