Amendment to decree circulated for comments: COVID-19 no longer classified as generally hazardous communicable disease
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has prepared an amendment to a decree by which COVID-19 caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 would no longer be classified as a generally hazardous communicable disease. In future, it would be defined as a monitored communicable disease. Comments are to be submitted by 5 May 2023.
Globally, the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths caused by the disease have been decreasing since the beginning of this year. COVID-19 vaccinations have remained effective against the mutated virus strains as well, and the vaccination coverage of the Finnish population is very good. No restrictive measures are in use.
In January 2023 the World Health Organization WHO estimated that by summer 2023 the COVID-19 pandemic could be declared to have ended. The European Union, its Member States and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) are also gradually phasing out the exceptional arrangements introduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 6 April 2023, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare proposed that COVID-19 would be classified as a monitored communicable disease.
Close monitoring for COVID-19 required in future
In the Communicable Diseases Act, communicable diseases are classified into generally hazardous communicable diseases, monitored communicable diseases and other communicable diseases, some of which require regular surveillance. A communicable disease is one to be monitored if its surveillance requires information from a physician or additional data collected separately, preventing the spread of the disease requires special measures to ensure that examinations to diagnose the disease and treatment of the disease are carried out appropriately, or the disease can be prevented by a national vaccination programme. Medicines used to treat a monitored communicable disease are free of charge for the patient.
Vaccinations are the most effective means to protect against a serious COVID-19 disease. Vaccinations in accordance with the recommendations will be important in future as well. Monitoring the occurrence of variants and morbidity caused by the coronavirus will continue, and measures to prevent infections can be stepped up if the disease burden increases.
Taneli Puumalainen, Director General, tel. +358 295 163 280, firstname.lastname(at)gov.fi