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Helsinki and Uusimaa still in 'acceleration phase' - not more severe 'spreading' stage

HUS's diagnostics director says the region's infection rate has somewhat slowed compared to the beginning of the month.

Covid-19 virus 3d-mallinnettuna
A 3D rendering of coronavirus molecules. Image: Sasa Kadrijevic / All Over Press

Director of diagnostic services at the Helsinki University Hospital district (HUS), Lasse Lehtonen, said he sees a slight glimmer of hope regarding the region's current coronavirus situation.

The infection rate has remained fairly stable over the past two weeks, he explained, saying that while the HUS region is in an acceleration phase, it has not met all the criteria to be considered to be in the more severe spreading phase.

In order for the virus to be considered in a spreading phase, daily infections should increase at a rate of 10 percent, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health's criteria. Additionally, the spreading phase also requires positive testing rates of two percent.

Lehtonen said that while the infection rate could be considered close to the spreading phase, and that the current positive testing ratio was also close to meeting the criteria, the infection rate had slightly slowed down over the past two weeks.

"There hasn't been a spike like there was at the end of September and beginning of October," he explained.

Few hospitalisations

Additionally, Lehtonen said that there has not been a large need to hospitalise Covid patients, despite the recent uptick in confirmed cases.

"This is because the coronavirus has not spread very much to older age groups that are most likely to require hospital care," Lehtonen said.

Roughly a week ago, the capital area and region of Uusimaa saw the implementation of stricter coronavirus-related restrictions, in which restaurant closing hours and the cap on gathering sizes were reduced, among other recommendations.

"We will see how well the new restrictions worked in the near future," Lehtonen said, noting that an examination of the past two weeks infection rates showed that the implementation of the restrictive measures may have done the trick.

On the other hand, Lehtonen pointed at the growing number of cases in the west coast city of Vaasa where coronavirus infections began to spread after a student party.

"In Uusimaa, however, there are so many coronavirus cases that there's the potential for a strong increase in new infections. That's why it is important to follow the coronavirus restrictions," Lehtonen said.

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