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Press release by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
Development of the epidemic remains stable nationally, but there are regional differences

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
27.5.2021 10.03 | Published in English on 27.5.2021 at 10.59
Press release 145/2021

The epidemiological situation has remained stable in Finland in the past few weeks. The number of new COVID-19 cases took a sharp downward turn in late March, which levelled out in late April. Since then the number of new cases has remained stable.

The epidemic is developing in two directions. More social contacts and the more transmissible virus variants may increase the number of infections. At the same time, the progress in the vaccine rollout and seasonality drive the number of cases down. This explains why the number of weekly infections remains stable.

Currently, the estimated effective basic reproduction number is 0.95–1.15, with a 90 per cent probability. It is a little higher than the week before. Throughout April, the estimated basic reproduction number was below one.

Between 17 and 23 May, about 1,300 new cases were reported to the communicable diseases register, showing a decrease of more than 100 cases from the previous week. The incidence of new cases over the last two weeks was 49 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 52 in the preceding two-week period. During the week, 1.1 per cent of all samples tested positive for COVID-19, showing a slight decrease on the previous week.

People already in quarantine accounted for 35 per cent of all new cases between 17 and 23 May, compared to 40 per cent in the previous week.

Fewer infections were reported among those aged 20 to 29 years than in the previous week. The number of cases was lower even for people under 20 years of age.

Cases where the virus was contracted abroad accounted for 6.9 per cent of all new cases, and the further infections resulting from them accounted for 1.8 per cent of all cases. The percentages are roughly the same as in the previous week.

More social contacts may result in regional clusters

The coronavirus situation is very different across the country. Southern and southwestern Finland have the highest numbers of new cases. However, the situation has improved considerably in the Hospital District of Southwest Finland compared to the previous week. 

Between 17 and 23 May, the incidence of COVID-19 was highest in Central Ostrobothnia, although even there the situation has improved from the previous week. In Kanta-Häme, the epidemiological situation has worsened.

In eastern and northern Finland, the weekly number of new cases is below ten in many areas. However, the deteriorated COVID-19 situation in the northern parts of Norway and Sweden raises concerns in northern Finland.

Vaccination progress and seasonality help control the epidemic

In Finland, more than 90 per cent of people aged 70 or older and more than 50 per cent of people aged over 16 have received their first vaccine dose. It is estimated that all those aged 16 or over who wish to be vaccinated will have received their first dose by the end of July.

It is important to continue to keep safe distances, wear face masks and observe good hygiene even after receiving a vaccination. Testing is also recommended for anyone with mild symptoms, even for those who have already been vaccinated. 

The vaccination progress and the positive development of the epidemic in early spring are reflected in the number of inpatients. The need for intensive care peaked after mid-March. At the end of March and during April, the number of intensive care patients decreased clearly. While there were no great changes in the need for intensive care in the first weeks of May, the downward trend resumed between 17 and 23 May.

On 26 May 2021, primary healthcare had 25 inpatients, specialised healthcare 58 inpatients and intensive care 18 patients. A total of 101 COVID-19 patients were in hospital care. On 26 May 2021, the total number of deaths related to the disease was 946.

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. 

Inquiries:

Mika Salminen, Director, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, [email protected]  (development of the epidemic)
Simopekka Vänskä, 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)
Pasi Pohjola, Director, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected] (situational picture and modelling group)

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