THE FINNISH INSTITUTE for Health and Welfare (THL) has reminded that certain changes in the coronavirus epidemic warrant close monitoring, even though on the whole the epidemiological situation remains stable in Finland.
THL on Thursday reported that the estimated reproduction number (R0) of the virus has crept up slightly from 0.4–0.75 to 0.65–0.90.
The reproduction number reflects the average number of people who are expected to contract the virus from a single carrier, with a number lower than one indicating that the epidemic is on the decline.
Weekly number of infections up by over 50%
The incidence of new cases has similarly risen marginally following the easing of restrictions and the warm weather witnessed in June. The rate is currently higher than the national average in four hospital districts: Helsinki and Uusimaa, Länsi-Pohja, South-west Finland and Åland Islands. As many as 14 hospital districts, by contrast, reported no new infections during the latest seven-day monitoring period between 22 and 28 June.
“The number of cases reported weekly to the disease register is still low, and the number has not changed significantly in the past two weeks,” summarised THL.
Finland on Wednesday reported its highest daily increase in new coronavirus cases, 22, since early June.
Taneli Puumalainen, the head of infectious diseases at THL, reminded that the daily number of infections is subject to considerable variation. “There hasn’t been any kind of significant increase,” he assured.
“On the other hand we also haven’t seen a significant decrease in recent days, meaning we’re surely in a situation where these kinds of local infection clusters are popping up. They have to be identified and smothered as quickly as possible in accordance with the hybrid strategy so that they don’t start spreading the infections wider,” added Puumalainen.
He reminded that the up-tick in new infections was expected due to the relaxation of restrictions and the warm summer weather, as well as the anticipated increase in cross-border travel to and from Finland.
“It means we do have to monitor the situation closely.”
Puumalainen also expressed his reluctance to speak about a second wave.
“Only a small amount of the virus is going around in Finland, but it’s nonetheless going around. There are infection clusters and infection chains and, if they aren’t detected in time, they can kindle a more widespread or local epidemic. You could call that a second wave if you want, but I personally think there’s a constant risk of the epidemic re-accelerating,” he stated.
THL on Thursday also reported that it has raised its forecast of new hospital and critical care periods necessitated by the coronavirus due to the long-standing sharp decline in hospitalisations appearing to have started levelling out.
Laboratories in Finland are presently capable of testing over 13,000 samples a day for the virus, exceeding the target of 10,000 set by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
“In Finland, the objective remains to test everyone who is suspected of having an acute-phase coronavirus infection. Getting tested at a very low threshold is crucial. Testing is a way to identify sources and chains of infection and prevent additional infections,” said THL.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi