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Covid hospitalisations doubled over 2 weeks, THL says

Cases are rising, and authorities have been unable to trace infections in many cases, particularly in the capital region.

Kuvassa tehdään koronavirustestiä Helsingin Messukeskuksen drive-in-testauspisteellä lokakuussa 2020.
Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Coronavirus cases have significantly increased over the past month, the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said in its latest report issued on Thursday.

The institute also said the number of patients requiring hospital treatment for the disease in Finland has doubled since the end of September. According to the latest hospital district figures available on Thursday, there were 40 receiving hospital treatment for coronavirus infections, eight of whom in intensive care. Just a few weeks ago the number of people requiring hospital treatment was in the single digits.

THL also reported on Thursday there were 241 new confirmed coronavirus cases recorded over the past day, bringing the overall total of infections to 12,944. The largest number of new infections was in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (121). The second most, 39, were found in the health care district of Central Finland, followed by the Vaasa Hospital District (35).

Meanwhile, last week (week 41), more than 80 percent of new coronavirus infections were seen in people under the age of 50, with more than 60 percent under 30 years of age.

At the moment, THL said Finland's average R0 was 1.3 - 1.55. The R0, or reproduction number, measures how contagious a disease is. Following the first wave in the spring, spread of the coronavirus nearly came to a standstill in May, with the R0 well below 1.0, according to previous THL data.

Most of the infections that occurred last week took place within Finland, while around five percent of new cases came from abroad.

The institute said the coronavirus situation in Finland was currently most severe in western Finland's Vaasa hospital district. The virus is also spreading quickly throughout the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), Hämeenlinna, Pirkanmaa, Southwest Finland, Southern Ostrobothnia and on the semi-autonomous islands of Åland.

Many cases untraced

The sources of infection are currently unknown in about half of newly-diagnosed cases. Infection sources are particularly unclear in the capital region and in the Vaasa district.

Meanwhile, infection sources are unclear in about 20-25 percent of cases in other areas of the country.

Approximately one quarter of successfully-tracked infections were observed being passed between family members and about 20 percent of infections were linked to workplaces or hobbies.

About half of the country's mass exposure incidents took place at daycare centres or schools, but there were few actual infections in these, according to THL's report. On the other hand, there were more infections seen in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and private gatherings.

The institute said that health authorities were able to prevent further outbreaks with speedy infection tracing and targetted action. THL also urged people with even mild cold symptoms to forego attending events or meeting people.

"Everyone can take action to help slow the spread of the virus. In the current situation, it is even important for healthy people to cut back on meeting others," the institute advised.

If such meetings cannot be avoided, the institute recommends the use of face masks by everyone in attendance.

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