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THL updates Covid death recording

The shift will better differentiate between people who died because of coronavirus and people who died of something else but also tested positive for Covid.

Photograph taken at a Covid ward in the Päijät-Häme region in November 2021. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
Yle News

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) will change its Covid-related hospitalisation and death recording practices from Thursday.

The institute will no longer automatically record deaths as Covid-related soon after diagnosis but focus rather on the actual cause of death instead.

The recording of hospitalisations will also change so that patients hospitalised for other reasons but test positive for coronavirus are distinct from those hospitalised because of infection.

Until now deaths that occurred within 30 days of a confirmed coronavirus infection were automatically classed as 'Covid-related.' In recent times, however, the link between infection and the cause of death has become weaker, which is why recording practises needed adjusting, according to THL.

Statistical reporting might be slower to reach the public after the switch, according to THL expert Sirkka Goebeler. That's because the new figures depend on the conclusions of the doctor treating each fatality.

Under the previous reporting system, recording authorities would simply combine data received from the National Infectious Diseases Register and the Digital and Population Data Agency to get Covid death totals.

"The vast majority of causes of death should be identified within a few weeks, however. The preliminary data will be later complemented with more accurate information," Goebeler said in a press release.

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