Finland: Number of coronavirus infections down on previous week – strict restrictions still necessary

NordenBladet — Slightly fewer new COVID-19 cases were reported in Finland between 22 and 28 March than in the first weeks of the month. The current restrictions and recommendations and the closure of businesses serving food or beverages seem to have slowed down the spread of the epidemic. It takes some time for the restrictive measures to take effect, and the number of new cases remains high. Therefore, it is possible that the epidemic could take a rapid turn for the worse.

There are major regional differences in the development of the epidemic. South and southwest Finland are the worst hit areas. COVID-19 incidence remains very high in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa and the Hospital District of Southwest Finland. The incidence is lowest in the hospital districts of South Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia, North Ostrobothnia, Lapland, Vaasa and Kainuu.

The COVID-19 epidemic: regional situation, recommendations and restrictions (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare)Coronavirus in numbers (Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa)

Percentage of positive samples remained high throughout MarchBetween 22 and 28 March, about 4150 new cases were reported to the communicable diseases register, showing a decrease of more than 500 cases from the previous week. The incidence of new cases was 75 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the previous week it was 85.

The total number of new cases in the last two-week period was about 8850, which was more than 500 cases fewer than in the preceding two-week period. The incidence of new cases was 160 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the preceding two-week period it was 170. Currently, the estimated basic reproduction number is 0.90–1.05, with a 90 per cent probability. This is slightly less than the week before. More than 135,000 COVID-19 tests were taken between 22 and 28 March, showing a slight decrease on the testing numbers earlier in the month. Positive results accounted for 3.1 per cent of all tests. The percentage of positive test results was high, more than 3 per cent, throughout March.

In Finland as a whole, the source of infection was traced in about 70 per cent of all new cases of domestic origin. Cases where the virus was contracted abroad accounted for 2 per cent of all new cases, and the further infections resulting from them accounted for less than one per cent of all cases. About one third of all new cases were reported among people already in quarantine. Between 22 and 28 March, most of the new cases were reported among working-age adults, especially among those aged 20 to 29 years, showing no change on the previous week.

Good progress in the vaccination of older adults – need for hospital care remains high
Vaccines are effective in protecting older adults and high-risk groups, and there has been good progress in the vaccination of these groups. The vaccination percentages were 84 per cent for people aged over 80 years, 68 per cent for those aged 75–79 years and 34 per cent for those aged 70–74 years. It is estimated that all people aged 70 years in Finland will have received their first vaccine dose by 18 April or 25 April.

Progress with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, in Finnish and Swedish)

There was a considerable increase in the need for hospital care in March. On 31 March, a total of 295 patients were in hospital care due to COVID-19, showing no change on the previous week. Primary healthcare had 65 inpatients, while specialised healthcare had 180 and intensive care 50 inpatients.
There was a clear increase in the need for intensive care in March, and the number of intensive care patients peaked with 64 COVID-19 patients on 23 March 2021. However, there was a decrease in the number of intensive care patients between 22 and 28 March. On 31 March 2021, the total number of deaths related to the disease was 844.

Situation in intensive care:COVID-19 in intensive care units, 31 March 2021 (National coordinating office for intensive care, in Finnish)

The monitoring report on the epidemic published today and the previous reports are available on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. This week the report includes a monitoring report on COVID-19 variants.

At present, genome sequencing is performed on up to 40 per cent of all positive samples. In the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, the UK variant has accounted for 60–70 per cent of all samples and the South African variant for about 8 per cent. In the rest of the country, the percentages are 50 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively. Signs of an increase in the number of variants are seen throughout the country, while the growth is strongest in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. Since genome sequencing takes time, it is not possible to draw any conclusions from the data for the past three weeks.

Monitoring coronavirus (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, in Finnish and Swedish)Action plan for implementing the hybrid strategy in January-May 2021 (Publications of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 2021:1)Effects of the COVID-19 epidemic on wellbeing, services and the economy (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, in Finnish)

 


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