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Coronavirus latest: 519 new cases on Sunday, ICU load remains low; state issues €73m in event guarantees; long waits for tests in Helsinki

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

Kuopiorock
Hand sanitiser at this weekend's Kuopiorock festival in eastern Finland. Image: Jussi Mankkinen / Yle

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

1.8 12:00 519 new cases on Sunday, ICU load remains low

The THL said on Sunday that 519 new Covid infections have been diagnosed in Finland. Nearly half of the new cases were in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS), followed by Tampere and Pirkanmaa.

While infection rates are rising, the number of patients in intensive care has been dropping since March, remaining below 20 all summer, and now standing at seven.

As of Saturday, 66 percent of people in Finland had received at least one dose of vaccine, with nearly 35 percent fully vaccinated. The highest vaccination rates are in eastern Finland and Åland, the lowest on the west coast. Altogether more than 5.6 million doses have been administered in Finland, surpassing the number of residents.

31.7 13:45 Less than 1/3 of event guarantee funds granted so far

Finland's State Treasury has issued coronavirus event guarantees totalling almost 73 million euros, less than 30 percent of the 250-million-euro total available.

The guarantees are intended to cover organisers' losses if events are cancelled or limited due to official pandemic restrictions.
Guarantees have been issued for more than 150 events. The largest number are for music festivals, concerts and exhibitions, as well as trade fairs, business and sporting events.
Nearly 90 percent of guarantee applications have been approved. The application period runs until the end of August.

More details here.

31.7 12:13 New cases hit 4-month high, nearly 800 on Saturday

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Saturday that 794 new coronavirus infections had been diagnosed in Finland. That was the highest single day total since late March.

Of the new infections, 344 were in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS). The second largest number, 136, were in the Pirkanmaa Hospital District, which includes the south-central city of Tampere.

There were 65 coronavirus patients in hospital, seven of them receiving intensive care.

Two more deaths were reported on Friday, bringing the total to 984.

30.7 18:15 Turku infections skyrocketing

Some 300 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases have been detected in Turku during the past seven days, according to city authorities. The incidence rate of the city of Turku is currently 230 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14-day period.

Hospitalisations have thus far remained low, however, and the situation is being closely monitored together with the hospital district, officials said.

The delta variant is responsible for the majority of new cases, which are increasingly being detected in people aged 18 to 25.

16:10 Helsinki Covid test waiting time stretches up to 20 hours

The average waiting time for residents in the capital to get tested for coronavirus has catapulted to 20 hours, according to the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District Area (HUS). However, the waiting time is still within the target of 24 hours, according to Lasse Lehtonen, Director of Diagnostics at HUS.

Helsinki will be opening two new testing centres next week due to increased demand at the Helsinki Arena and Kamppi. The worsening epidemic situation has boosted the number of performed tests up to more than 10,000 samples each day.

"Yesterday, more than 11,000 coronavirus tests were performed at the HUS Diagnostic Centre, which is a really large number," Lehtonen said.

Lehtonen predicts that the return of nursing staff from their holidays will further ease congestion and shorten the queuing time for testing.

30.7 14:07 Helsinki region may move to community transmission phase

The rising number of infections in the capital region may led the Uusimaa Coronavirus Coordination Group to declare the HUS hospital district to be in the community transmission phase of the pandemic at a meeting scheduled for next week.

According to the group, the majority of people under the age of 60 living in the region have not yet received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, and the virus is spreading among unvaccinated people as well as those who have only received one dose.

Infections and exposures in the HUS region are especially prevalent at public events such as festivals as well as at private parties and restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

"Infection tracing in several municipalities is congested, making it impossible to reach the infected and exposed quickly enough, and isolating and quarantining them. In addition, as a result of exposures at festivals and bars, the chains of infection will spread further because those exposed are not being identified in time," HUS Deputy Chief Physician Eeva Ruotsalainen said in a Friday press release.

30.7 13:35 High school union oppose return to distance learning

The Union of Upper Secondary School Students has made an appeal to decision makers regarding rumours that the new school year may resume remotely due to the worsening pandemic situation.

The independent, student-led group described a return to distance learning as "the worst thing that could happen."

More on this story here.

30.7 11:42 THL: 748 new cases on Friday

Health agency THL has reported 748 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing Finland's total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 106,008.

30.7 11:23 Pirkanmaa reports record high daily cases

Tampere University Hospital (TAYS) has reported 112 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Friday, which is the highest daily figure in the Pirkanmaa region since the beginning of the pandemic.

Read more here.

29.7 17:16 Education Minister: Distance learning a "last resort"

Education Minister Li Andersson (Left) has said that schools will only switch to distance learning as a "last resort" measure even if the coronavirus situation in Finland continues to deteriorate.

The minister added that she believes children and young people will return to classrooms as normal when schools reopen again across the country next week.

Read more here.

29.7 16:05 Government reintroduces restrictions on bars, restaurants

Finland's government is set to reintroduce restrictions on bars and restaurants across regions considered to be in the acceleration phase of the pandemic.

The new measures will come into force from Saturday 31 July, and will see alcohol service end by midnight and doors shut by 1am. Restrictions will also see normal customer capacity reduced to three quarters in restaurants, and to half in bars.

There is more on this story here.

29.7 13:46 THL: Increasing infections among younger age groups

There has been a significant increase in the number of young people testing positive for coronavirus over the past two weeks, especially in the 18 to 21-year-old age group, according to the latest figures provided by health agency THL and the Ministry of Health.

THL has recorded a total of 2,895 coronavirus infections across all age groups over the last seven days, which is almost 30 percent more than in the previous week. This is the fifth consecutive week in which the number of infections has increased, and the daily totals are similar to the figures reported during February, just before Finland's government announced a partial shutdown.

Read more on this story here.

29.7 12:00 Finland daily cases reach 765

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has reported 765 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday. Most of the new cases, 379, were diagnosed in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS) area.

The health agency and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said that infections are spreading rapidly, especially among young adults, who are most likely exposed to the virus via various public events, leisure activities, bars, restaurants and outdoor festivals.

29.7 11:40 Pirkanmaa region reports record high daily cases

Tampere University Hospital (TAYS) has reported 93 lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Thursday, which is the highest number of daily cases in the Pirkanmaa region since the pandemic began.

In total, the region has reported 6,158 cases.

Chief physician at TAYS, Juhani Sand, said that the region's pandemic situation is heading in a worrying direction.

"A precise analysis into the origin of the infections is yet to be made. Last week, the main source was bars and restaurants, recent larger events certainly contributed to this week's high figures," Sand said.

The Pirkanmaa region moved to the acceleration phase last week, and the extra cases are putting a strain on healthcare services, with summer holidays adding further to the pressure, Sand added.

"The pandemic is exhausting healthcare services. Currently, all non-urgent treatments are on hold," he said, adding that "healthcare staff deserve their vacation. I hope their break does not have to be interrupted because of this."

28.7 16:46 Fully vaccinated care home residents diagnosed with Covid

Some 14 coronavirus infections have been diagnosed at the Hopeatie care home in Lassila, Helsinki, with around half of the infections found in residents and the remainder among members of staff.

The majority of the infected residents had received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

Read more on this story here.

28.7 15:25 Rising cases prompt Tampere to cancel tram event

The City of Tampere has announced the cancellation of an event to launch the city's new tram line on 8 August due to the worsening coronavirus situation.

The launch was to be celebrated via a folk festival at Jugendtori in the centre of the city. However, Tampere Tramway Ltd. and the City of Tampere will now be moving the Ratikka festival online instead.

"The most important thing is for us to act responsibly in this situation, despite it being a rather unfortunate decision for us after four years of waiting," CEO of Tampere Tramway Ltd., Pekka Sirviö, said in a press release.

28.7 13:09 Increasing infections among one-dose vaccinated people

A "significant" proportion of people recently diagnosed with a coronavirus infection had received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to Mika Salminen, Director of health agency THL's Department for Health Security.

Read more on this story, including a transcription of Salminen's Wednesday morning interview on Radio Suomi, here.

28.7 12:48 Survey: Majority in favour of Covid cert

Around 63 percent of people in Finland support the introduction of a Covid pass or certificate model, according to the results of a survey commissioned by business lobby the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK).

If adopted, the document would function as official proof of administered vaccines, a recent negative coronavirus test result or recent recovery from the virus.

Read more on this story here.

28.7 11:55 THL: 644 new cases on Wednesday

Finland has reported 644 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, according to the latest figures from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. Most of the new cases, 310, were diagnosed in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS) area.

Some 5,131 cases have been recorded over the past two weeks, which is over 2,000 cases more than in the previous 14-day period.

27.7 17:18 Tampere authorities warn of exposures, publish location list

Tampere University Hospital (TAYS) has published an exceptionally long list of places where people may have been exposed to coronavirus in recent days. The list has a total of 51 potential exposure locations.

TAYS added that people who attended the Tammerfest music festival or who were present in the surrounding Laukontori area could have been in contact with an infected person on all three festival days, 22, 23 and 24 July. Several infections have already been traced to the festival.

27.7 16:02 New cases traced to Tikkurila music festival

The City of Vantaa has advised anyone who attended the Tikkurila music festival last weekend that they may have been exposed to coronavirus, after several cases were diagnosed in people who were at the event.

The outdoor festival was held between 22 and 24 July and had a daily audience limit of 8,000.

Vantaa city officials are now encouraging attendees to apply for a coronavirus test as soon as symptoms develop, even if only minor. Helsinki and Uusimaa residents can book a test appointment at https://koronabotti.hus.fi/en.

27.7 15:57 HUS Physician: No "return to normal" yet

Eeva Ruotsalainen, Deputy Chief Infectious Disease Physician with the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), told Yle that she is "worried" about the high number of lab-confirmed coronavirus cases reported on Tuesday.

"Now is not the time to return to normal, because the coverage provided by two doses of a vaccine is insufficient," she said.

Read more on this story here.

27.7 11:54 Finland reports 612 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL has reported 612 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday. This is the highest daily figure since the beginning of April and brings Finland's total number of cases to 103,851.

Over 4,900 cases have been recorded over the past two weeks, which is nearly 2,000 cases more than in the previous 14-day period.

26.7 16:31 North Savo, Jyväskylä move to acceleration phase

Authorities in the North Savo Hospital District have announced that the region is moving from the baseline phase of the coronavirus epidemic to the accelerating phase after an uptick in infections.

The Regional State Administrative Agency and the local municipalities will next consider what restrictions may need to be introduced in order to tackle the spread of the virus.

Separately, authorities in Jyväskylä, Central Finland announced on Monday that the city should now be considered to be in the acceleration phase after a sharp increase in infections which has led to a doubling of the incidence rate over the past week.

26.7 13:27 THL Professor: Relaxing of travel restrictions could lead to rise in infections

Travelling into Finland became easier from the early hours of Monday, but rising infection rates have left some people worrying that the relaxation of travel restrictions could worsen the epidemic situation in the country.

The decision to ease restrictions was made more than a month ago when infection rates were significantly lower across the world, according to health agency THL's research professor Hannu Kiviranta.

"It was a completely different situation then. The situation has changed quite rapidly over the last three weeks," Kiviranta said during an interview on Yle's morning talk show on Monday.

Read more here.

26.7 13:10 Covid app loses users

Finland's Covid tracing app has lost half a million users since it launched, according to the THL. Read our story here.

26.7 11:51 THL: 267 new cases on Monday

The Finnish Institute for health and Welfare THL has reported 267 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic to 103,239.

25.7 12:31 360 new cases in Finland

Finland has recorded an additional 360 cases of Covid, bringing the total to 102,972. Helsinki and Uusimaa recorded the largest number of new cases, with 213.

Over the last two weeks Finland has recorded 4,585 cases, which is 1,769 more than during the previous two weeks.

24.7 16:59 Violence at work dips during pandemic

Finland saw a drop in violence at work last year, as Covid restrictions changed behaviour and saw more people work from home. Read more here.

24.7 12:51 AstraZeneca vaccine guidance criticised

Finland's decision to recommend people in their late sixties get the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine has been criticised by the Parliament's Deputy Ombudsman. Read our story here.

24.7 12:45 570 new cases in Finland

Finland has recorded an additional 570 cases of Covid, says THL. The largest number of new infections was recorded in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), with 247 cases.

Over the last two weeks there have been 4,386 cases, which is 1,690 more than during the previous two weeks.

Finland has recorded 102,612 infections since the start of the pandemic, and 980 people have died after a Covid diagnosis.

23.7 17:47 HUS region introduces gathering rules

The whole of the Helsinki and Uusimaa region is now in the acceleration stage, says the region's Covid co-ordination group.

Previously western parts of the region were at the 'base' level, rather than the acceleration stage.

The group wants people in Uusimaa to limit indoor private gatherings to ten people or fewer.

Meanwhile Kanta-Häme is also entering the acceleration stage, according to local authorities there. They have not yet recommended any new restrictions, however.

23.7 12:55 THL: 412 new cases in Finland

Finland has recorded 412 new cases of coronavirus, reported THL on Friday. The largest number of new cases was recorded in the Helsinki and Uusimaa region, where an additional 195 people tested positive.

Over the last two weeks 4,204 people have tested positive for Covid, which is 1,657 more than during the previous two weeks.

In total, Finland has recorded 102,042 cases of Covid during the pandemic.

22.7 18:43 Government approves restrictions

Ministers approved a tightening of restrictions in some regions on Thursday, after case counts increased.

Positivity rates are also up, at 2.3 percent this week.

Restaurants, pubs and bars in South-west Finland, Pirkanmaa, Kymenlaakso, Päijät-Häme and Uusimaa will have to close at 1am and stop serving alcohol at midnight.

Capacities will also be restricted. More detail on the Covid situation and the restrictions in our story.

22.7 12:31 404 new cases in Finland

THL has added 404 new confirmed coronavirus infections to Finland's total, which now stands at 101,630 over the course of the pandemic.

Helsinki and Uusimaa recorded the largest chunk of new infections, with 217.

22.7 11:25 Tampere contact tracing service congested, 40 new cases in Pirkanmaa

Pirkanmaa is seeing a sharp rise in daily coronavirus infections with 40 confirmed cases in the past 24 hours.

TAYS (Tampere University Hospital) tweeted that the worsening situation has congested the contact tracing system, delaying their efforts to contact infected patients and figure out who they may have exposed. The hospital district also shared the dates and locations of possible exposure hotspots on Facebook and Twitter.

21.7 13:00 HS: Nightlife restrictions coming back for acceleration stage regions

The government intends to reintroduce some restrictions on Thursday, according to Helsingin Sanomat. The paper's sources suggest that ministers will hold a meeting at which they are likely to decide to reintroduce restrictions in areas that have entered the 'acceleration stage' of the epidemic.

If they do so, bars and restaurants will be allowed to open from 5am until 1am each day. Alcohol sales will be permitted from 9am until midnight.

In addition, 'wet' bars and pubs will be restricted to 50 percent of normal capacity, while eateries serving food will be allowed 75 percent of their usual upper limit.

THL says that Uusimaa, Kymenlaakso, Päijät-Häme and South-west Finland are in the acceleration phase of the epidemic, under Finland's three-stage classification.

21.7 12:21 Q&A on children's vaccination

Finland has not yet decided to vaccinate 12 to 15 year-olds, but a decision is expected in August. That way, children could get the jab in the early part of the school year. Read our Q&A here.

21.7 12:14 453 new cases in Finland

Finland has reported an additional 453 cases of Covid infection. That brings the total to 101,226 infections over the course of the pandemic.

Helsinki and Uusimaa has more new cases, with an extra 255 reported on Wednesday. Hospitals have 56 patients on Covid wars, including 10 in ICU.

20.7 17:49 Ministry says holidaymakers must pay for Covid tests

Finland's public sector providers should not be giving tests to people who need Covid certificates for their foreign travel, according to the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health.

Read our story here.

20.7 12:25 Finland reports 461 new cases

THL confirmed 461 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections to 100,773 since the start of the pandemic.

The highest number of new infections, 203, was again detected in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district area. Pirkanmaa hospital district came second with 91 new infections and followed by Päijät-Häme with 47.

20.7 11:45 Helsinki opens up new vaccine slots

Helsinki residents can now bring forward their slot for getting the second dose of Covid vaccine.

Helsinki council says that residents can now get their second dose between eight and twelve weeks after they received the first jab.

The rule change might not advance things that much, as few slots are available in the coming weeks due to a high number of second dose slots.

The municipality still recommends a twelve-week interval between doses, stating that the longer gap improves the effectiveness of the vaccine and makes immunity last longer.

Slots can be brought forward on the koronarokotusaika.fi website.

20.7 10:40 Finns are less happy, study finds

A survey conducted by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA) suggests that one in five Finns is unhappy, up from 17 percent in 2016. The slump in the mental well-being of people in Finland may be partially explained by the coronavirus pandemic.

"One of the reasons for the decline in happiness may be the effects of the coronavirus crisis on working life and the lives of people of working age," EVA research manager said in a press release.

Read the full story here.

19.7 15:21 156 new cases in Finland

THL announced on Monday that Finland has recorded an additional 156 Covid infections, taking the total number of Covid cases in Finland during the pandemic to 100,312.

Currently, hospitals are treating a total of 52 patients on Covid wards, 12 of them in intensive care.

18.7 13:18 180 new cases in Finland

THL announced on Sunday that Finland has recorded an additional 180 Covid infections, taking the total number of Covid cases in Finland during the pandemic to 100,156.

Helsinki recorded the largest number of cases, with 75, while Espoo had 24 and Vantaa 18.

Ten people are in intensive care with Covid, with another 34 being treated in hospital.


17.7 14:15 Exposures, infections at Hanko sailing event

A sailing event at the south-western town of Hanko has led to numerous infections and exposures to Covid infection.

The local council announced on Friday that several people who visited the boating festival on 8-11 July subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

Anyone who visited a total of 14 different restaurants during that period could have been exposed. The full list is available here. In addition people could have been exposed at the Camping Silver Sand campsite between 9 and 13 July.

Swedish-language paper HBL reports that a total of 73 people who attended the regatta subsequently tested positive in Helsinki, while in Espoo seven cases were potentially linked to the event.

Health authorities in Helsinki, Espoo and Hanko are urging everyone who attended the regatta to go for a Covid test as soon as possible, even if they are not displaying symptoms.


17.7 14:05 384 new cases

Finland recorded another 384 Covid cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 99,976. Helsinki had the most new infections, with 104. Next was Tampere with 34 and then Espoo with 33.

One additional death has been recorded, meaning a total of 979 people have now been recorded as having died with Covid in Finland during the pandemic. Hospitals are currently treating a total of 44 patients on Covid wards.

THL also announced that 3,554,030 people in Finland have now received their first dose of a Covid vaccine. That corresponds to 63.7 percent of the population having received at least one dose, with an additional 15,814 first doses recorded since Friday.

Some 1,507,123 people have received both doses, 27.1 percent of the population, with an extra 40,775 people fully-vaccinated since Friday. Check more stats at our Covid dashboard.

Read previous updates here.

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