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THL: No sign of pandemic slowing

The incidence rate of the disease in Finland currently stands at 50 cases per 100,000 residents.

Taneli Puumalainen ja Mika Salminen
THL bosses Taneli Puumalainen (left) and Mika Salminen at a press conference in September. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

The state of the Covid-19 epidemic varies from place to place in Finland, but it is nevertheless at full throttle, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) director Mika Salminen told reporters on Tuesday.

"There is no slowdown in sight, rather the pandemic is still in full swing," Salminen said during a status update on the situation.

Salminen pointed out that determined action, which does not necessarily mean a full lockdown of society -- can still influence the development of the epidemic.

Six areas still in acceleration stage

Six regions in Finland are considered to be in an "accelerating" phase, with the Vaasa hospital district classified as being in a "spreading" stage. Vaasa has recorded the highest number of new coronavirus cases in the past week, along with Central Finland and the capital region. Hospital authorities and regional administrative officials will re-evaluate local situations on Thursday, experts said.

One variable that public health officials track is the incidence rate of the disease, which currently stands at 50 cases per 100,000 residents. However there is a high degree of fluctuation nationwide -- for example in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) it is currently more than 80 cases per 100,000.

In urban Vaasa, where the epidemic is said to be spreading, the incidence rate is roughly 600 cases per 100,000 residents and it is just over 300 per 100,000 in the entire hospital district.

"The situation in Vaasa has settled a bit in recent days. It sees that effective measures implemented by local governments and the hospital district have turned the situation in a better direction," THL senior physician Taneli Puumalainen said at the press conference.

Puumalainen said there is no single forecast for when the epidemic will peak in Finland and added that everything depends on how far control measures succeed.

Infections now more common among young adults

This autumn coronavirus infections have been more prevalent among young people than during the spring, when the average age of people who tested positive was 48. This autumn the average age has been 38. THL officials noted however, that testing capacity was limited earlier in the year and tests were more sparingly administered.

Advanced age is still a major factor in developing serious illnesses from the disease. It heightens the risk of requiring hospital treatment and death. People with pre-existing conditions have a two to three times greater risk of ending up in hospital or dying, the THL noted.

Especially at risk are people over the age of 70, as well as individuals with conditions that affect lung or heart function or which compromise their immune systems.

These conditions include cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, asthma and chronic lung diseases and diseases or medications that cause liver or kidney impairment as well as connective tissue diseases and rheumatism.

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