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Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
New COVID-19 cases reported in large numbers between 8 and 14 March

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
18.3.2021 10.00 | Published in English on 18.3.2021 at 13.51
Press release 64/2021

The COVID-19 situation remains difficult in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa and the Hospital District of Southwest Finland. Over the past few weeks, the need for specialised healthcare and particularly the need for intensive care have increased considerably in these Districts.

Between 8 and 14 March, a total of nearly 4,800 new cases were recorded in Finland, showing an increase of over 300 cases from the previous week. This is the highest weekly number of new cases reported in Finland since the start of the epidemic. Because the situation has worsened considerably throughout Finland, it is justified that regions maintain and proactively increase comprehensive and effective ways to prevent infections and to ensure the capacity of the healthcare system.

The incidence of new cases was 86 per 100,000 inhabitants between 8 and 14 March, while in the previous week it was 80. The total number of new cases in the last two-week period (1–14 March) was nearly 9,200, which was almost 1,700 cases more than in the preceding two-week period. The incidence of new cases was 166 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the preceding two-week period it was 136. 

Currently, the estimated basic reproduction number is 1.0–1.2, with a 90 per cent probability, while in the previous week it was 1.1–1.3. Although the epidemic has further accelerated at the national level, it is likely that the recommendations and restrictions in place have slowed down the spread of the epidemic to some extent. The situation has improved particularly in Åland and the Satakunta Hospital District.

There are also early signs that vaccinations are starting to curb the epidemic, and the vaccine rollout is progressing well in all catchment areas for highly specialised medical care. By Wednesday 17 March 2021, more than 75 per cent of people over 80 years of age had received at least one vaccine dose, and over one third of those aged 75–79 had been vaccinated at least once. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare provides information on the progress with the rollout daily on its website. 

The number of COVID-19 tests conducted between 8 and 14 March was more than double — over 147,000 tests — compared to the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. The percentage of positive COVID-19 cases of all samples was about 3.2 per cent between 8 and 14 March. 

In Finland as a whole, the source of infection was traced in 59 per cent of all new cases of domestic origin. One third of all new cases were reported among people already in quarantine. This figure is slightly higher than in the previous weeks. Cases where the virus was contracted abroad accounted for 1.7 per cent of all new cases, and the further infections resulting from them accounted for less than one per cent of all cases.

Most of the new cases are still reported among working-age adults, particularly among young adults. Between 8 and 14 March, people under 50 years of age accounted for about 81 per cent of all cases and people under 30 years of age accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the cases. People under 10 years of age accounted for about 11 per cent of the new cases, while people aged 10–19 accounted for around 14 per cent of the new cases. 

Rapid increase in the need for specialised healthcare and intensive care

The need for specialised healthcare has increased considerably over the past few weeks, and the need for intensive care has also grown rapidly, particularly in the past few days. On 17 March, a total of 278 patients were receiving hospital care due to the COVID-19 disease. Of them, 79 were inpatients in primary healthcare, 143 inpatients in specialised healthcare and 56 inpatients in intensive care. On 17 March 2021, the total number of deaths related to the disease was 804.
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) 
Taneli Puumalainen, Chief Physician, 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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