Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
COVID-19 case numbers rising again — retaining a low threshold for testing
The number and incidence of coronavirus cases have risen again compared to the past few weeks. While the national epidemiological situation has remained fairly stable for several weeks now, there are considerable regional differences. Getting tested is the key to curbing the spread of coronavirus.
Although the majority of the cases are of domestic origin at the moment, the fact that the pandemic is escalating in Europe is worrying and, in future, the situation can also affect Finland.
So far timely and sufficiently extensive measures at the regional level, rapid testing and effective tracing of infections have helped curbing the spread of the epidemic in regions. In all this, the underlying principle is that we all act responsibly and take into consideration in our own activities the guidelines of the authorities, for example, on reducing physical contacts, maintaining a safe distance, ensuring good hygiene practices and using a face mask or covering.
On 4 November 2020, seven regions reported having entered the acceleration phase. These regions are the Hospital Districts of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Kanta-Häme, Länsi-Pohja, Pirkanmaa, Vaasa and Southwest Finland and the Åland Islands. The remaining 14 hospital districts are at a stable level, but there are individual cities and towns situated in some of these hospital districts that have entered the acceleration phase. These cities and towns are Kouvola, Kuopio and Siilinjärvi, Oulu and Rovaniemi.
Currently, the estimated basic reproduction number is 1.20–1.25, with a 90 per cent probability.
During the period of 26 October – 1 November, a total of 1,428 new cases were reported to the communicable diseases register, while in the previous week the number of reported cases was 1,230. The incidence of new cases was 25.8 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the previous week it was 22.2.
The total number of new cases in the last two-week period (19 October – 1 November) was 2,658, while in the preceding two-week period (5–18 October) it was 2,885. The incidence of new cases was 48 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the preceding two-week period it was 52.
Percentage of positive samples is increasing
Between 26 October and 1 November, the number of new cases increased again, and the incidence of cases also grew from the previous week. The number of people tested for coronavirus was smaller compared to the previous week. Some laboratories have, however, experienced delays in reporting their figures. The proportion of positive samples of all those tested has grown, and between 26 October and 1 November, it was 1.8 per cent. As more accurate numbers of tests become available, the number of positive samples of all those tested between 19 October and 1 November may also go down retroactively.
All those with even the mildest symptoms of coronavirus should get tested promptly and at a low threshold. This also applies to young people with even the mildest symptoms, because there have been many mass exposures in educational institutions.
Most of the new cases are still reported among younger age groups and young adults. During the period of 26 October – 1 November, people under 50 years of age accounted for nearly 80 per cent of all cases and people under 30 years of age for nearly 50 per cent of the cases. People over 60 years of age accounted for less than 10 per cent of the new cases, while people over 70 years of age accounted for only a few per cent of the cases.
Spread of the virus most common within families, according to information regarding tracing
The information regarding the tracing of infections was compiled during the week beginning 26 October, and it covered a total of about 1,400 cases. Of these, five per cent were of foreign origin. The source of infection was identified in over 60 per cent of cases of domestic origin. In the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, the source of infection was known in nearly half of the cases during the period of 26 October – 1 November. As for the rest of the country, the source of infection remained unknown only in about one fifth of the cases.
The place where the virus was contracted was known in about 60 per cent of the cases. In the majority of these cases (60 per cent), the virus had spread within a family. In 10–15 per cent of the cases, the virus had spread during other meetings and private gatherings among friends and family, and in about 10 per cent of the cases at workplaces. In 8 per cent of the cases, the virus had spread through recreational activities. Only 8 per cent of the reported cases were traced back to educational institutions, despite large mass exposures.
Between 26 October and 1 November, only a small percentage of cases were traced back to public events and restaurants, bars and cafes. It is clear that recommendations and restrictions, such as restrictions on the late opening hours of food and beverage service businesses, help reduce possible exposure to the virus.
Number of people requiring hospital care is still relatively low
The number of people requiring hospital care is still relatively low, although the number of patients has grown in recent weeks. On 4 November 2020, a total of 65 patients were receiving hospital care due to the COVID-19 disease, and 15 of them were in intensive care. Since the beginning of September, the average age of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has been 57. The average age of COVID-19 patients who were in intensive care last spring was exactly the same.
It is estimated that about 12,700 people, which is nearly 75 per cent of all confirmed cases, have recovered from the disease. The total number of confirmed cases in Finland now stands at 16,930. There have been 361 deaths related to the disease.
The monitoring report on the epidemic published today and the previous reports are available on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare:
- Monitoring coronavirus (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, in Finnish)
- COVID-19 epidemic: situation in regions, recommendations and restrictions (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare)
- Action plan for implementing recommendations and restrictive measures under the hybrid strategy following the first phase of the COVID-19 epidemic (Publications of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 2020:26, description sheet available in English)
Taneli Puumalainen, Chief Physician, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, [email protected] (development of the epidemic)
Kari Auranen, Senior Researcher, 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)