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Covid patient admissions plunge as Finland avoids worst-case Easter predictions 

Fewer people are getting tested at Easter, according to the chief physician at HUS.

Lääkäri suojapuvussa hoitaa potilasta.
Doctors treat a patient at Kuopio University Hospital. Archive photo. Image: Sakari Partanen / Kuopio University Hospital

The number of Covid patients in hospital has declined clearly in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS).

HUS Chief Physician Markku Mäkijärvi said the news was like a ray of light on Easter weekend.

"Happily, there's good news there," said Mäkijärvi. "The number of patients in hospital being treated for Covid has clearly declined. In HUS hospitals there were a total of 76 patients being treated this morning, and 20 of them were in intensive care."

On 31 March there were still 156 patients on Corona wards and 30 in intensive care.

The decline in Corona war usage is a good sign, said Mäkijärvi.

"There are fewer seriously ill patients now," said Mäkijärvi. "Fewer patients are needing hospital treatment."

That means more people are leaving Covid wards than are being admitted to them, and the load on hospitals is reducing as fewer seriously ill patients present for treatment.

Patients had been transferred to other hospitals as a precaution, so that there would be space for any new surge in Covid admissions.

HUS had expected a spike in admissions over Easter.

"We're glad to be wrong about this," said Mäkijärvi. "Every Covid ward has spare capacity to take new patients."

Infections down, but so are tests

Finland recorded some 302 new Covid infections on Sunday.

Mäkijärvi says that it's difficult to draw conclusions from one day's figures.

That's because there have been fewer tests than normal. In the HUS region there were around 5,000 tests on Saturday, roughly half the normal number.

"Of course it's possible that the epidemic is fading away, but it can't be the reason for this big change," said Mäkijärvi.

"Behaviour around testing is more of an explanation."

It's likely that there'll be a spike in testing after Easter, if previous holidays are a reliable indicator.

"Test numbers will definitely increase when people return from their holidays," said Mäkijärvi. "How much Covid we diagnose then, will tell us about the pace of the epidemic now."

Mäkijärvi urges those who've travelled at Easter to go for tests if they have symptoms. That information can then inform decisions about restrictions and recommendations.

"If we don't have accurate information about the extent of the epidemic, we are driving through fog and decisions are not as good as they would be otherwise."

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