Saturday 3/6/21
EPIDEMIC

Finnish authorities concerned about spread of new Covid-19 variants

Health authorities have identified the first case of the Brazilian variant, known as P.1. So far, a total of 450 cases of the new variants have been confirmed in the country, most of them in the Helsinki region.

An intensive care ward for Covid-19 patients in Helsinki. Photo: @Hus/file photo.
Intensive care ward for Covid-19 patients in Helsinki. Photo: @Hus/file photo.

The number of Covid-19 cases have remained at the same "relatively high level across Finland," over the past four weeks, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said in its latest monitoring report on the epidemic.

According to the assessment of the health authorities, about 2,300–2,700 new cases are reported every week. The number of people requiring hospital care has remained relatively stable, but the need for intensive care has increased slightly in the past few days. The weekly number of deaths from coronavirus is decreasing slowly.

The epidemiological situation is characterised by great and rapidly changing regional differences. Especially in the capital region, the situation has deteriorated further. Between 1 and 14 February, the incidence of new cases during the 14-day period was 186 per 100,000 inhabitants in the Hospital District of Helsinki-Uusimaa, while in the whole country it was 91 per 100,000 inhabitants. In some places in the Greater Helsinki area, there is a backlog in tracing contacts of Covid-19 cases, the Health Ministry says.

Over the past four weeks, the incidence of new cases in a 14-day period was also more than 100 per 100,000 inhabitants in the Hospital Districts of Southwest Finland, Central Finland, Vaasa and East Savo.

The British variant

Finnish authorities are particularly concerned about the new British variant spreading to Finland. So far, 450 cases of the new variants have been confirmed in the country. Of these, 427 were cases of the UK variant and 22 of the South African variant. One travel-related case of the Brazilian variant, known as P.1, has been identified in Finland so far.

The new virus variants also raise concern especially in Uusimaa. Slightly over 70% of the cases of the UK variant were reported in the Hospital District of Uusimaa and Helsinki.

The mutated versions of the virus are identified by sequencing the whole genome of the virus or parts of it. Every week, a sample of positive Covid-19 tests is selected to help assess the situation across the country.

Number of cases high

On Thursday 18 February, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 614 new cases and 2 more deaths associated with the disease. So far, 52,209 cases have been diagnosed in Finland and the virus claimed 725 lives. 

Between 8 and 14 February, nearly 2,500 new cases were reported, which is slightly less than in the previous week. The incidence of new cases was 45 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the previous week it was 47. As before, the majority of the new cases were of domestic origin. The proportion of cases where the virus was contracted abroad continued to fall and accounted for just 3%.

Currently, most of the new cases are reported among working-age adults, and more specifically, among young adults. Between 8 and 14 February, people under 50 years of age accounted for nearly 80% of all confirmed cases and people under 30 years of age for nearly half of the cases. 

The percentage of people over 70 years of age has increased. Last week they accounted for 4% of all cases whereas now they account for 9% of them.

On 18 February, 137 patients were receiving hospital care and 27 of them were admitted to intensive care wards.

Comments