Top physician: Fifth Covid wave hitting Finland

HUS Chief Physician Asko Järvinen told Ilta-Sanomat that Finland will need new restrictions to help curb the virus.

A Lahti streetscape earlier this month. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District's (HUS) Chief Physician, Asko Järvinen, told Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on Sunday that Finland will need new restrictions to protect those unvaccinated against coronavirus.

He said Finland would likely need to introduce restrictions similar to those imposed in other European countries to slow the pace of new infections. Austria, for example, is entering a national lockdown on Monday amidst a new wave of infections.

"It comes down to minimising the risk of unvaccinated adults becoming infected by limiting contacts to prevent overburdening hospitals and ICUs," Järvinen told the paper.

He noted that 70 percent of Covid patients in regular hospital wards are unvaccinated, whereas nearly all ICU Covid patients have not been vaccinated.

While Järvinen noted that fully vaccinated individuals may fall ill with Covid, most of those inoculated against coronavirus only experience cold-like symptoms.

He called on decision makers to outline measures for containing Covid as cases rise.

Fifth wave Christmas

Finland has recorded around 1,000 daily cases over the past week, causing a fifth wave of the pandemic to gain pace in the country, according to Järvinen.

On Thursday public health institute THL reported 1,259 new cases and Friday saw 1,191 new infections—the highest daily counts in Finland since the start of the pandemic.

That said, Järvinen estimates infections to rise in the coming weeks, peaking around Christmas. He, however, said those with two or three jabs, including the elderly, don't need to isolate this holiday season as long as they observe good hygiene practices.

Finland is moreover not in a hurry to administer top-up shots to all adults, according to Järvinen. He said Covid vaccines continue to offer good protection against serious Covid-19 symptoms more than six months after the second dose.

The National Advisory Committee on Vaccines (Krar) is meeting on 1 December to discuss the roll-out of third doses for adults under the age of 60. Top-up jabs are currently available for at-risk groups, health care personnel as well as nursing home residents and staff.