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Finland's coronavirus fatalities likely under-reported by dozens

The Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district said that nursing home deaths have not been included in national data.

Patient och skötare håller hand.
Image: AOP

The Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district HUS said on Friday evening that Finland's novel coronavirus death have been under-reported by dozens.

The regional hospital authority noted that the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare THL's data do not include fatalities recorded at nursing homes.

The THL gathers its statistics from hospital districts, which in turn compile them from hospital records as well as municipalities and towns in their catchment area.

On Friday, HUS reported 20 deaths, while the corresponding number for Thursday was 18. However the city of Helsinki reported on Friday that there had been 48 coronavirus deaths at senior care homes in that city alone.

HUS chief medical director Markku Mäkijärvi said that the data being transmitted to the THL appeared to lack the fatalities recorded at Helsinki care homes, in other words it was short by at least 48.

Helsinki hospital medical director Laura Pikkarainen said that her understanding was that the information going to THL was missing just about 20 fatalities.

Meanwhile the THL reported that by Friday afternoon, the number of fatalities from Covid-19 nationwide was 82.

THL to include nursing home deaths from next week

Mäkijärvi said that so far, HUS had not been collecting data on nursing home deaths.

"We are now correcting the reporting, because it is important [to know] how many of these deaths are in senior care homes," he added.

The chief medical director said that municipalities had been gathering this information themselves, and that HUS had not asked them to share it with hospital districts, who would have in turn passed the data on to the THL.

Municipalities have therefore only been reporting fatalities recorded at local hospitals.

Meanwhile, HUS has collected statistics about deaths at HUS hospitals. On Friday the number of deaths in the HUS district was 54, with hospitals in Helsinki accounting for 20 of them.

HUS only directed municipalities to include nursing homes in their fatality statistics on Thursday. According to Mäkijärvi, THL will begin including nursing home coronavirus deaths from next week.

"The numbers will not show up today [Friday]," Mäkijärvi concluded.

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