Wednesday 10/28/20

Incidence of Covid-19 doubles and authorities don't know origin of cases

The incidence of new cases doubled in the last two-week period and is now 31 per 100,000 inhabitants.

In the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, the source of infection is unknown in about 75% of the cases.

THL's director of Health Security, Mika Salminen. Photo: Jussi Toivanen/Vnk.
THL's director of Health Security, Mika Salminen. Photo: Jussi Toivanen/Vnk.

Finland faces the fight against the coronavirus in a situation of sharp increase in the number of cases and lack of control over its origin. According to health authorities, now 60% of infections are of unknown origin and that percentage exceeds 75% in the capital area. The incidence of the virus has doubled in the last two weeks and already exceeds the 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants that the government set as a limit for other countries when traveling to Finland.

In its latest assessment of the epidemiological situation, the Finnish government notes that the weekly number of new Covid-19 cases has increased significantly over the past month. "The incidence of cases is growing sharply and the percentage of positive samples of those tested continues to increase," says the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

The total number of new cases in the last two-week period (21 September – 4 October) was 1,719, while in the preceding two-week period it was 817. The incidence of new cases was 31 per 100,000 inhabitants and in the preceding two-week period it was 14.7.

On 7 October 2020, regions gave their own overall assessments of the development of the epidemic during the period of 28 September – 4 October. The assessments were made under the direction of the relevant hospital districts.

Based on these assessments, the situation has deteriorated in five areas. The Hospital Districts of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Kanta-Häme, Pirkanmaa, Southwest Finland and South Ostrobothnia have entered the acceleration stage of the epidemic, according to their own assessments. The Vaasa Hospital District has reported that in its area the epidemic has reached a stage of spreading. 

People in quarantine

During the week 28 September – 4 October, about one fifth of all new cases in Finland were reported among people already in quarantine. In most cases, the virus had spread within families, at food and beverage service establishments and through leisure-time activities. A large number of people had also contracted the virus in other situations during their spare time, for example when travelling inside of the country or attending a private party, particularly a student party.

Between 28 September and 4 October, a total of 149 mass exposures were reported throughout Finland. More than half of these occurred at educational institutions and daycares or through leisure-time activities and about 10% at restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Although numerous large-scale mass exposures have occurred at schools, daycares and educational institutions, they have resulted in only isolated instances of further infections.

Unknown source of infection

Cases with unknown source of infection accounted for about 60% of all new cases in the latest period (28 September – 4 October). Most of these were reported in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa where the source of infection was unknown in about 75% of the cases. As for the whole country, in about 40% of the cases with known source of infection, the virus had spread within families or at workplaces, and in about 10 % of them, it had been contracted at food and beverage service establishments.

Now young people and young adults account for a bigger share of all confirmed Covid-19 cases than last spring. During the latest period, people under 50 years of age accounted for more than 70% of all confirmed cases and people under 30 years of age for nearly 50% of the cases. 

Currently, the estimated basic reproduction number is 1.45–1.65, with a 90 per cent probability. This is at the same level as the week before.

Between 28 September and 4 October, the vast majority of the confirmed cases were of domestic origin. Only less than 5% of the cases were of foreign origin, and they have caused virtually no further infections.

11,345 cases, 346 deaths

At present, the testing capacity of laboratories is about 20,000 samples per day. The number of conducted COVID-19 tests continues to be high in relation to the population, although the numbers of tests have decreased slightly. During the latest period, 9,000–13,000 tests were analysed daily. The percentage of positive COVID-19 cases of all those tested has increased for a month now; during the period of 28 September – 4 October, the figure was 1.4 per cent.

On 8 October 2020, the total number of confirmed cases in Finland was 11,345. There have been 346 deaths related to the disease. A total of 31 patients were receiving hospital care and five of them were in intensive care.

It is estimated that about 8,500 people, which is around 75% of all confirmed cases, have recovered from the disease.