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Press release by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare ja THL tiedottavat 
Significant increase in number of COVID-19 infections

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 15.10.2020 10.50
Press release

The number of new coronavirus infections has increased significantly in Finland over the last month. The number of patients in hospital care has more than doubled since the end of September.  

The breakdown of positive COVID-19 cases by age group has not changed much. During the period of 5–11 October, people under 50 years of age accounted for more than 80 per cent of all cases and people under 30 years of age for almost 60 per cent of the cases. Currently, the estimated basic reproduction number is 1.30–1.55, with a 90 per cent probability.

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:

Epidemic accelerating in some areas

The epidemiological situational picture is divided into three stages: base level, acceleration stage and spreading stage. The Hospital Districts of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Kanta-Häme, Pirkanmaa, Southwest Finland and South Ostrobothnia and the Åland Islands have reported to have entered the acceleration stage of the epidemic. The Vaasa Hospital District has reported that in its area the epidemic has reached the spreading stage. 

As before, the majority of the new cases have been reported in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa and the Vaasa Hospital District. 

Source of infection known in about half of the cases

During the period of 5–11 October, the majority of the new cases were of domestic origin like before, and only a small proportion (less than five per cent) were of foreign origin. Cases where the virus was contracted abroad led to only isolated instances of further infections in Finland.

About one fourth of all new cases in Finland were reported among people already in quarantine.
Cases with unknown source of infection accounted for about half of the new cases across Finland.

Most of the cases with unknown source of infection were reported in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa and the Vaasa Hospital District. As for the rest of the country, the source of infection was unknown in about 20–25 per cent of the cases.

In about one fourth of the cases with known source of infection, the virus had spread within families, and in about one fifth of them, the virus had been contracted at workplaces or through leisure-time activities. Mass exposures in healthcare and social welfare units, such as residential homes or healthcare units, were reported in seven hospital districts. 

About half of all reported mass exposures occurred at daycare centres or educational institutions, but they have resulted in only isolated instances of further infections. However, it has been reported that some mass exposures at gatherings that took place at restaurants, bars or nightclubs and on private premises have led to numerous further infections.

Local and regional measures are now crucial

The aim is to carefully track the transmission chains of all new cases in order to prevent new infections as effectively as possible. Thanks to quick tracking and effectively targeted prevention measures, it has been possible to keep many local COVID-19 clusters under control. 

Coronavirus is transmitted efficiently particularly between people who are in close contact for a longer time. People with even the mildest symptoms should not take part in social events, but they should avoid contact with other people and get tested as soon as possible. 

Each of us can do our part to slow down the spread of coronavirus. It is important that healthy people too avoid close contact with others during the epidemic. If avoiding close contact is impossible, it is recommended to wear a face mask.

Epidemic prevention measures under the Communicable Diseases Act are primarily local and regional. Regional prevention measures play a key role in curbing the spread of infections as it is important to stop the situation escalating any further.  

Inquiries 

Taneli Puumalainen, Chief Physician, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, [email protected] (development of the epidemic)
Simopekka Vänskä, Senior Researcher, Docent, 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)