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Half of Finland's new coronavirus cases seen among younger age groups

Infection rates among young adults aged 20 to 29 have risen sharply during September.

Kuvassa on maahan piirtyviä ihmisten varjoja.
Infections among younger people, especially aged between 20 and 29, have risen sharply in recent weeks. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Young people are accounting for almost half of the number of lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in Finland in recent weeks, according to the latest figures provided by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

In particular, people between the ages of 20 and 29 have been involved in a series of mass exposure incidents, prompting the government to temporarily restrict the opening hours of bars and restaurants in an attempt to control the spread.

THL has said that venues where loud music is played, which are often frequented by young people, are especially high-risk as those present generally speak louder and stand closer to others.

According to the data provided by THL, there has been no significant increase in the percentage proportion of infections across all age groups in recent weeks, with the notable exception of young adults.

Story continues after graphic.

Number of infections by age group, May to September (%)
Image: Samuli Huttunen / Yle

In the case of adults aged 20-29, their share of the total number of infections by age group has increased from about 20 percent to 30 percent in just over a month.

There are no similar increases evident among the other groups, although in the younger age category of 10-19 year olds, there has been a clear but much smaller rise.

The APN podcast breaks down the news on bars and restaurants and the latest on the coronavirus situation this week. You can listen to the full podcast on the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

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With case counts rising, we reported that Finland wants to close pubs early, looked at hockey crowds during the pandemic and asked if we really live in 'Finntopia'. Audio: Yle

One quarter of population accounting for half of recent infections

The number of infections among these two age groups, 10-19 and 20-29, makes up almost half of all recent infections, even though they account for less than a quarter of the total population.

Emmi Sarvikivi, a Senior Medical Officer at THL, told Yle that younger people are especially vulnerable to exposure because their lives are usually very social and active, yet they are also more likely to be asymptomatic.

"Young people may not think they could spread the virus. We are trying to prevent the virus from spreading more widely, and the importance and behavior of young adults can be crucial here," Sarvikivi said, adding that adhering to safety guidelines, such as the wearing of masks, is therefore especially important.

"Some young people want to live as they normally would. It may also be that they are tired of the situation or they just don’t care," she said.

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