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Half of Lapland coronavirus cases found in visitors

Lapland medical centres carried out more coronavirus tests than usual as visitors headed north for ski holidays.

Ihmisiä hissijonossa Kittilän Levillä helmikuussa 2021.
Holidaymakers queue for the ski lifts in Levi in February. Image: Antti Ullakko / Yle

Half the coronavirus cases in Lapland in the past two weeks have been detected in visitors from outside the region, according to the Lapland Hospital District.

The Pihjalalinna doctor's surgery in Levi has carried out three times more coronavirus tests during the school skiing holidays than during normal periods. Those tested include schoolchildren from southern Finland who had been exposed to the coronavirus before travelling north for the holidays.

Kolari Health Centre carried out 350 coronavirus tests last week, around a hundred more than in a typical week, said the municipality's chief doctor Ulla Ylläsjärvi.

But Lapland Hospital District's infectious disease expert Markku Broas said that although the current incidence of coronavirus in Lapland was high, all infections had been traced and no mass exposures had been detected.

Lack of foreign visitors reduces accidents

While domestic tourists have been linked to a rise in coronavirus cases, one doctor said a drop in foreign visitor numbers had reduced the number of injuries requiring medical treatment.

There have been around 300 injuries related to winter sports in Levi this season, while Ylläs has seen around 170.

"They may not be used to snowy surfaces or have never even seen snow. With the worst luck, you can break your leg as soon as you step off the airport bus," Pihjalalinna's service manager Tanja Hänninen said.

Katja Kuusimäki, chief doctor at Medi Ylläs, said the resort had seen a similar number of accidents when compared to previous years. The number of serious head injuries had fallen in recent years as helmet use grew, she said.

Finland's very first case of coronavirus was detected in a visitor to Lapland in January last year, when a female tourist visiting from Wuhan sought medical treatment in Ivalo.

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