COVID-19 no longer classified as generally hazardous communicable disease
The Government has approved an amendment to the Government Decree on Communicable Diseases by which COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus will no longer be classified as a generally hazardous communicable disease. In future, COVID-19 will be defined as a monitored communicable disease. The amended Decree is scheduled to enter into force on 30 June 2023.
Globally, the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths have been decreasing since the beginning of this year. COVID-19 vaccinations have also remained effective against the mutated virus strains, and the vaccination coverage of the Finnish population is very good. No restrictive measures are in place anymore.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on 5 May 2023 that COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. The European Union, its Member States and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have also phased 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 be classified as a monitored communicable disease.
Close monitoring of COVID-19 also required in the future
Under the Communicable Diseases Act, communicable diseases are classified into generally hazardous and monitored communicable diseases and other communicable diseases, some of which require regular monitoring. A communicable disease is one to be monitored if monitoring the prevalence of the disease requires information from a physician or additional data collected separately, preventing the spread of the disease requires special measures 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 way to protect against a serious form of COVID-19. Vaccinations in accordance with the recommendations will also be important in the future. Monitoring the occurrence of variants and the morbidity caused by COVID-19 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, [email protected]
Material on decisions made by government sessions (in Finnish)