Roughly 38,000 people were tested for the new coronavirus in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) between 21 and 27 December, according to Helsingin Sanomat. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)


THE CAPITAL REGION of Finland registered a decline in both the number and incidence of coronavirus cases in the week ending on 27 December.

The decline should not be misinterpreted as evidence of the epidemiological situation taking a distinct turn for the better, Lasse Lehtonen, the head of diagnostics at the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS), emphasised to Helsingin Sanomat on Monday.

The hospital district is monitoring the epidemiological situation not only in terms of the number and incidence of infections, but also in terms of the share of positive coronavirus tests. That percentage rose by 0.1 percentage points from the previous week to 2.5 per cent in the week between 21 and 27 December, said Lehtonen.

“We’re still talking about pretty much the same numbers as we did before Christmas,” he stated.

The situation has nonetheless improved since the beginning of the month, when 3.5 per cent of collected samples had traces of the new coronavirus.

The share of positive samples has been high especially for 16–18-year-olds, 5.5 per cent of whom have provided a positive sample this month compared to only 3.9 per cent between October and November. Infections have increased also in older age groups, with the percentage among over 75-year-olds rising from 2.4 to 3.9 per cent.

The share stood at only 2.7 per cent for 31–50-year-olds, who accounted for over a third, or 49,000, of the roughly 150,000 people tested for the virus in HUS in December.

It is possible that the decline in the number of infections is, at least partly, a consequence of people being more reluctant to get tested at Christmas, reminded Helsingin Sanomat.

Markku Tervahauta, the director general at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), on Sunday stated to the newspaper that the test numbers have been low during the holidays and that there are also likely to be delays in entering the infections to the infectious diseases register.

The number of tests has remained relatively high in the capital region despite the holidays, said Lehtonen.

“Before Christmas, we were taking plenty of samples – 9,000 samples a day at best. During the Christmas holidays, we’ve been taking about 2,500 samples a day,” he commented to Helsingin Sanomat.

THL on Tuesday reported that the number of laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases has risen by 283 to 35,420.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT