The Helsinki government warned on Thursday that the Covid-19 epidemic that is shaking the country is rapidly getting worse across Finland.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health released this message after the infections soared for two days in a row: on Wednesday, the country broke a record with 797 infections, but on Thursday it was not far from that mark, with 758 new cases and 5 deaths reported by the National Institute for Health and Well-being (THL).
According to the latest monitoring report on the epidemic, over the past two weeks the number of new Covid-19 cases reported in Finland has been significantly higher than ever before. And infections have continued to increase "at an alarming rate despite the restrictions," in the government's own words.
Finland has exceeded the 60,000 infections mark and 764 people have died of coronavirus in the Nordic country since the beginning of the pandemic.
British variant spreading
In fact, during the latest reporting period (22–28 February), Finland recorded the highest number of new cases since the start of the epidemic.
Particularly the British variant continues to spread. So far, 1,274 cases of the new virus variants have been confirmed in the country. Of these, 1,205 are cases of the British variant and 68 of the South African variant. One travel-related case of the Brazilian variant has been identified too.
"The rapid deterioration of the situation calls for swift and more stringent measures to curb the epidemic," the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said in a press release.
The incidence of new cases over the last 14-day period has increased in as many as 16 hospital districts.
When compared to the situation two weeks ago, the incidence of cases has remained at the same level or decreased in only five areas. The situation has worsened quickly particularly in the hospital districts of Helsinki-Uusimaa, Southwest Finland (Turku region) and the Åland Islands.
The total number of new cases in the last two-week period was over 7,400, which was nearly 2,300 cases more than in the preceding two-week period. The incidence of new cases over the last 14-day period was 134 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the preceding two-week period it was 93.
The government says that what is positive is that now the threshold for people getting tested is lower. The number tests has almost doubled compared to the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.
More people in hospitals
Rapidly increasing number of cases places also a burden on healthcare services.
In the whole of Finland, the number of people requiring hospital care has clearly raised. The need for intensive care has also increased, particularly in Helsinki and Uusimaa. However, the capacity of intensive care has not been threatened on the national scale.
On 4 March 2021, a total of 245 patients were receiving hospital care due to the Covid-19. Of them, 39 were in intensive care.
Most new cases among young people
Most of the new cases are reported among working-age adults. During the period of 22–28 February, people over 60 years of age accounted for about 10% of the new cases, while people over 70 years of age accounted for about 4%.
The government considers the vaccine rollout is progressing well in all catchment areas for highly specialized medical care in accordance with the vaccination strategy. On 3 March 2021, more than 60% of people over 90 years of age had received at least one vaccine dose, and about half of those aged 80–89 had been vaccinated at least once.