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Finland's corona alert app hits 2.5 million downloads, infection spike levels off

The app is available in three languages.

THL:n johtaja Mika Salminen sosiaali- ja terveysministeriön ja Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitoksen tiedotustilaisuudessa Helsingissä 29. lokakuuta.
Mika Salminen of THL said Finns had done well to follow guidance and slow down the spread of coronavirus. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Finland's coronavirus situation is improving slightly, with a reduction in the rate of new infections and an increase in the percentage of infection chains that can be traced, said health officials at a press conference on Thursday.

Officials said that people in Finland had faithfully followed guidance to try and slow the spread of the disease, and strain on healthcare services remained low.

"The need for hospital and intensive care remains nationwide," said Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki of the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health, who added that it was difficult to say if the trend was diverging from the peak seen in the spring or not.

She said that the average age of those admitted to ICU units is broadly similar to earlier in the year, at a little under 60 years of age.

Officials said that the Vaasa region is in the 'spreading phase' of the epidemic. Uusimaa, Pirkanmaa, Kanta-Häme, Åland and Southwest Finland are in the 'acceleration phase', while the other 15 hospital districts are currently in the 'base' stage, with low rates of transmission.

As case counts rise across Europe, Finland has managed to keep a lid on the epidemic better than most.

"Case fatality rate has dropped since the spring, and that is partly because we are finding more milder cases," said Mika Salminen of the National Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, who added that it might not yet be time to organise big family gatherings in any case.

"We can't declare that this is a permanent situation, but it does indicate that Finns have succeeded in the most important task: maintaining physical distance, taking care of hygiene and using masks, which has clearly increased on the streets in the areas where the recommendation is in force."

Salminen said that some 2.5 million people had downloaded Finland's coronavirus alert app, which he described as a 'world record'. Finland's total population is 5.5 million.

Pasi Pohjola of the ministry said that testing had ramped up substantially since September, with 10,000-18,000 tests conducted a day and in the Helsinki region results being returned 40 hours later, on average.

Tracing has also improved, with the source of between 35 and 40 percent of infections now unknown. Of those whose source could be determined, 60 percent occurred within families, 15 percent in private social settings, 10 percent at hobbies and 10 percent at workplaces.

Infections linked to restaurants have dropped clearly, and few were traced to daycare centres or educational institutions.

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