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Press release by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
COVID-19 epidemic appears to continue accelerating — regional preventive measures play a key role in curbing spread of infections

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 1.10.2020 10.00 | Published in English on 1.10.2020 at 15.37
Press release 221/2020

The weekly number of new coronavirus cases has increased significantly in Finland over the last month. Of the indicators defined in the hybrid strategy, the incidence of new cases both in the previous seven days and in the previous 14 days as well as the proportion of positive COVID-19 cases of all samples taken have grown at an alarming rate.

The epidemiological situation has deteriorated quickly particularly in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. During the period of 21–27 September, a total of 425 new cases were reported in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. In the previous week, the number of reported cases was 226. The coronavirus coordination group of the Greater Helsinki area confirmed on 24 September that the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa had entered the acceleration phase.

The epidemiological situation appears to be accelerating at the national level. This is mainly due to the epidemiological situation in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. At the same time, the situation has remained stable in some parts of the country.

Numerous COVID-19 clusters, mass exposures and further infections 

Over the past few weeks, more and more large domestic clusters of COVID-19 and mass exposures have been reported in Finland, and these have resulted in further infections. Most of the new cases are related to known chains of transmission from around the country. The aim is to continue to trace all new cases as carefully as possible.

During the period of 21–27 September, cases with unknown source of infection accounted for about half of the new confirmed cases. Most of the cases with unknown source were reported in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. In about two thirds of all cases reported in the District, the source of infection was unknown. As for the rest of the country, the source of infection was unknown in about one fifth of the cases. 

The virus has spread within families and in workplaces, educational institutions, private parties and through leisure-time activities, for example. Very few of the exposures in schools or daycares have led to further infections. Mass exposures at restaurants and bars have been the source of numerous infections. Only less than five per cent of the cases are of foreign origin. 

The information on the tracing of infections is based on the information reported by 17 hospital districts and the City of Helsinki, covering about 600 cases between 21 and 27 September.
Now young people and young adults account for a bigger share of all cases than last spring.

During the period of 21–27 September, people under 50 years of age accounted for more than 70 per cent of all cases and people under 30 years of age for about 45 per cent of the cases. 

Currently, the estimated basic reproduction number is 1.25–1.30, with a 90 per cent probability. This is at the same level as the week before.

Number and incidence of cases on the increase

During the latest period (21–27 September), a total of 686 new cases were reported to the communicable diseases register. In the previous week (14–20 September), the number of reported cases was 463. The incidence of new cases was 12.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the previous week it was 8.4. 

The total number of new cases in the last two-week period (14–27 September) was 1,149, while in the preceding two-week period (31 August – 13 September) it was 586. The incidence of new cases was 20.7 per 100,000 inhabitants and in the preceding two-week period it was 10.6. 
A total of 9,992 cases have been confirmed in Finland by 30 September 2020. There have been 344 deaths related to the disease. It is estimated that about 8,100 people, which is over 80 per cent of all confirmed cases, have recovered from the disease. On 30 September 2020, a total of 19 patients were receiving hospital care due to the COVID-19 disease. Four of them were in intensive care. 

The most recent weekly report of the situational picture and modelling group as well as previous reports are available on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Number of positive samples indicates epidemic is accelerating 

At present, the testing capacity of laboratories has exceeded the target of 20,000 samples per day as set out in the testing strategy. During the period of 21–27 September, a total of about 7,000–14,000 people were tested for coronavirus in Finland every day. About 0.8% of them were positive. The number of new infections has increased for a month now.

Inquiries:

Taneli Puumalainen, Chief Physician, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, [email protected] (development of the epidemic)
Simopekka Vänskä, Senior Researcher, Docent, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, [email protected] (projection models) 
Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, Strategic Director, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected] (situational picture and modelling group)

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