Laboratory results from the Turku University Hospital have confirmed that a new mutation of the South African COVID-19 strain was responsible for the infection cluster traced to exchange students in the Southwestern Finland city last week.
In light of the rising infection rate in the Greater Helsinki region, the Finnish government plans to make changes to its current vaccination schedule to allot a larger number of vaccines to the worst-hit areas of Finland.
Authorities have expressed concerns that current measures are not curbing the spread of the virus in younger age groups, as the number of cases among young adults and children is mounting.
Turku infection cluster caused by new virus variant
A new mutation of the highly contagious South African COVID-19 virus strain was found to be the cause of the recent spate of infections in Turku.
As per the Turku University Hospital, the new variant is highly similar to the South African strain but is not identical, which indicates that the virus has adapted once again.
There is no evidence to indicate that the new variant is more dangerous than previous strains. Patients have reported mild symptoms and none have been hospitalised as of now.
Finnish government preparing to change vaccination schedule
According to Ilta-Sanomat, the Finnish government plans to revise its vaccination strategy to take a more targeted approach, which involves focusing on the areas worst hit by the COVID-19 virus, such as the Helsinki Metropolitan region.
Those in high-risk groups will continue to be vaccinated at the same pace across the country. The capital city region will likely not receive any additional vaccines until May.
COVID-19 infections among children on the rise
As per the latest statistics, children and young adults account for a growing number of COVID- 19 cases in Finland.
At the beginning of the year, children under the age of 10 accounted for 5 per cent of all infections. They now account for 13 per cent. Additionally those aged between 10 and 19 constitute 14 per cent of all COVID-19 cases.