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Coronavirus latest: Second boosters possibly in store for people under 80; Covid behind mounting staff absences; Finland reports first Omicron BA.5 subvariant

This article brings you the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic in Finland.

People at a shopping mall, file photo. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Check Yle's dashboard for a range of regional, national and international Covid data.

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20.5 15:46 Minister: Second boosters in store for younger age groups

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén says the government is preparing for the next possible coronavirus wave.

Lindén also suggested that the general age limits on fourth doses of the Covid vaccine will drop by the fall, but awaited expert views on the subject.

Read more here.

19.5 16:15 Covid behind mounting staff absences, sick pay backlog

Finland's benefits agency Kela has paid 91 million euros in benefits so far this year, compared to 115 million during the entire year of 2021.

Some 120,000 people in Finland have received sick pay after contracting coronavirus during the first four months of 2022. The figure is nearly as high as the total number of recipients for the entire year of 2021.

Despite the improving coronavirus situation, the agency has had to hire 50 new workers to alleviate the pressure. Currently, some 3,000 Covid allowance applications land on Kela's desks every day.

More on this story here.

19.5 16:00 Finland reports first Omicron BA.5 subvariant case

Turku's Laboratory of Clinical Microbiology recorded Finland's first case of the Omicron subvariant on Wednesday.

The variant was found in a Finnish citizen who had returned from a trip to Central America around the time of the May Day weekend, according to a hospital press release.

Read more here.

12.5 13:07 THL: Nearly 17,000 new cases in past week

Finland recorded 16,973 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections over the past week, the Institute for Health and Welfare reported on Thursday.

The agency currently publishes information about new Covid cases on a weekly basis.

12.5 13:02 HUS boss: Spike of Covid deaths going unnoticed

This year's spike in Covid-19 deaths is not being adequately publicized, Lasse Lehtonen, the head of diagnostic services at Helsinki University Hospital (HUS), told Yle on Thursday.

An inaccurate understanding of the country's pandemic situation could lead to fewer people seeking out third vaccine doses — also referred to as boosters, Lehtonen said, noting that if Covid deaths continue at their current pace it would be 'catastrophic'.

Read more here.

5.5 15:50 Finland's death toll breaches 4,000

Finland surpassed 4,000 Covid deaths as of Thursday, the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported.

Finland had 3,000 total Covid deaths a little over a month ago, after taking over two years to reach that milestone.

On the whole though, coronavirus infections appear to be declining across Finland.

The past five weekly measurements of Covid RNA in wastewater have diminished with each recording. Covid RNA is on average present in wastewater three weeks after infection, which THL has pointed to as a benchmark that the virus is on the retreat.

4.5 14:23 Finland's hospitalisations slightly down

The number of people with Covid receiving hospital treatment has declined, the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported.

As of Wednesday, there were 774 patients with Covid in hospitals around the country, which was 28 fewer than on Monday, the last time such figures were published.

Out of those patients, there were 21 receiving intensive care treatment, reflecting a decline of four since Monday.

THL publishes Covid-related hospitalisation figures on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while the institute reports Covid-positive testing numbers on Thursdays.

2.5 15:24 Finland to decide on fourth doses of vaccine

Finland is to make a decision this week on who should have access to a fourth dose of Covid vaccine. Up to now second booster shots have been restricted to those living in care homes, those aged over 80, and the severely immuno-compromised. Read our story here.

2.5 12:10 THL: Slight uptick in hospitalisations over the weekend

There was an increase in the number of people with Covid hospitalised over the weekend, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

As of Monday there were 802 patients with Covid in Finnish hospitals, which was an increase of 43 people since Friday, THL said. Of the total amount of patients, 25 were in intensive care units.

THL publishes data on Covid-related hospitalisation figures on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Read previous updates here.