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Finland's Covid cases to rise again, health authority predicts

Two coronavirus variants are being monitored particularly closely, health authorities say.

The best protection from severe diseases comes from hybrid or combined immunity resulting from vaccination and past corona infections, according to health officials. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

There will be an increase in new Covid cases across Finland as winter approaches, according to a forecast from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The health authority presented an assessment of the coronavirus situation at a joint press briefing with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, on Thursday morning.

The experts said vaccinations are not effective in significantly reducing the spread of the virus at this point. The best protection from severe Covid symptoms comes from hybrid immunity, which people gain from a combination of vaccinations and a recent infection.

Finland is monitoring two Omicron subvariants of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 — BA.2 and BA.4 — particularly closely.

According to THL Chief Physician Tuija Leino, those variants are better able to evade immune defences, and can bypass the protection provided by vaccination and previous Covid infections more effectively than earlier variants.

Leino also presented statistics on Covid-related fatalities in Finland. An uptick in deaths seen in July and August subsided in September.

According to figures from Tuesday, Covid was linked to the hospitalisation of 749 patients in Finland. Of these, 340 had been hospitalised specifically because of coronavirus, while 289 had been admitted for other reasons and then tested positive for the illness. No further details were provided regarding the remaining 120 patients.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a strong recommendation urging the use of face masks across Europe, especially on public transportation and in crowded indoor areas. It also recommends avoiding congested places in general and paying attention to good indoor ventilation.

Anniina Virkku, a medical specialist at THL, said it was currently unnecessary to further vaccinate people under the age of 65 if they are in good health.

The latest coronavirus updates and recommendations for people living in Finland can be found on THL's website (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

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