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UK Covid variant spreading in Finland

Mutated strains of the virus account for one in ten new infections in the capital region, according to HUS.

Koronavirustestaus Drive in piste Itä-Pasilassa.3.2.2021.
Image: Jorge Gonzalez / Yle
Yle News

Private medical firm Mehiläinen said its genomic testing shows UK variants of coronavirus are spreading faster in Finland than expected. The company said it identified 15 variant samples in its latest batch, up from eight in the previous reference period.

Mehiläinen said mutations had turned up in different parts of Finland. The company said it was surprised to discover variants outside of known infection clusters.

HUS medical chief Asko Järvinen meanwhile said he estimated that mutations accounted for around ten percent of positive samples. He said Covid variant cases were no longer linked to foreign travel.

"It's already spreading in the population," Järvinen added.

Clinical microbiologist Sakari Jokiranta of Mehiläinen partner Vita Laboratories pointed out that public healthcare only performs sequencing on samples suspected to be mutated forms of the virus.

Järvinen said that HUS Lab has seen an increase in suspected variant cases since the end of January. He said epidemic modelling indicated that variants will make up half of all new cases in four to six weeks.

"We should all be more careful about our contacts, try to avoid unnecessary ones and seek testing for minor symptoms so we can identify infection chains and break them."

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