Respiratory tract infections are on the rise – familiar methods of prevention still valid this Christmas

Publication date 18.12.2023 8.00 | Published in English on 18.12.2023 at 14.59
Press release

Respiratory tract infections are currently circulating widely in Finland. An influenza epidemic has begun and an RSV epidemic is just starting. Coronavirus is still circulating, although the peak of the autumn wave has already passed.

Ways to prevent influenza, RSV, coronavirus and other respiratory tract infections include:

  • Take the recommended vaccinations – they are the best way to protect yourself against severe forms of the diseases. 
  • Stay at home when sick – even during Christmas. 
  • Wash your hands and cough and sneeze into your sleeve – the best way to avoid respiratory tract infections is to take care of hygiene. 
  • Assess your own risk, use a mask if necessary and keep a distance from others. 
  • Ensure good ventilation. 

“These methods can be used to combat respiratory tract infections caused by viruses. If you get sick, it’s important to refrain from visiting friends and family during Christmas to prevent infections. By doing this, everyone can protect at-risk groups, such as the elderly,” says THL Chief Specialist Anna Katz

Respiratory tract infections are all treated in the same way

You can rarely tell the cause of an infection by the symptoms alone. In most cases, treatment according to the symptoms and rest are sufficient. If your general condition deteriorates or the symptoms are stable or getting worse, you should contact health care services, as is the case with all illnesses. 

Antiviral drugs may also be used to treat influenza and coronavirus infections, based on a doctor's assessment. The key to their use is that treatment can be started early enough. 

You can return to work, school and day care when the symptoms have clearly subsided and any possible fever is gone. For a child, it is a good idea to wait until the child is able to participate in lessons or early childhood education and care activities.  

In viral infections, communicability decreases rapidly after the onset of symptoms. Sneezing and coughing may continue for a long period but do not prevent returning to, for example, work, school or day care. 

“Let's all enjoy the festive season but let's all celebrate together only if we’re healthy,” says Katz. 

More information  

Prevention of respiratory tract infections (THL)

Up-to-date influenza survey (THL, in Finnish)

Situation update on coronavirus (THL)

Anna Katz 
Chief Specialist, Head of Unit 
tel. +358 29 524 7424 
[email protected]  

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