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Press release by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
Slight decrease in COVID-19 cases compared to last week — need for care remains high

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
25.3.2021 10.01 | Published in English on 25.3.2021 at 13.40
Press release 76/2021

Between 15 and 21 March, the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in Finland decreased for the first time since the increase in case numbers in mid-February. Although the rise in the number of cases has subsided at the national level for the time being, new cases are still reported in large numbers. Most of them are reported in southern and southwestern Finland. In March, inpatients in specialised healthcare have placed an increasing burden on healthcare services and the need for intensive care has grown considerably.

Between 15 and 21 March, about 4,650 new cases were reported to the communicable diseases register, showing a decrease of about 275 cases from the previous week. The incidence of new cases was 84 per 100,000 inhabitants. This means that the incidence of new cases has decreased slightly from the previous week when the figure was 89.

The total number of new cases in the last two-week period was nearly 9,600, while in the preceding two-week period it was over 8,400. The incidence of new cases was 173 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the preceding two-week period it was 152.

Currently, the estimated basic reproduction number is 1.0–1.15, with a 90 per cent probability. This is slightly less than the week before.

People have been tested in large numbers in March, and between 15 and 21 March, a total of over 145,000 tests were carried out. Despite the growing number of tests taken, the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases of all samples has been over 3 per cent during the past three weeks. Between 15 and 21 March, it was about 3.2 per cent.
In Finland as a whole, the source of infection was traced in 68 per cent of all new cases of domestic origin. The success rate for contact tracing was thus higher than the week before.

Cases where the virus was contracted abroad accounted for 1.4 % of all new cases, and the further infections resulting from them accounted for 1.1 % of all cases. About one third of all new cases were reported among people already in quarantine. Nearly 13,500 people were quarantined between 15 and 21 March, which is nearly 2,000 people more than in the previous week.

Between 15 and 21 March, like throughout the early part of this year, the majority of all new cases were reported among working-age adults and young adults. Four out of five cases were reported among people under 50 years of age and more than half of the cases among people aged 20–50. People under 10 years of age accounted for about 13 per cent of the new cases and people aged 10–19 accounted for around 14 per cent of all cases reported between 15 and 21 March. The percentage of people under 10 years of age of all cases has been growing slowly since autumn 2020, whereas the percentage of older people has remained low since the beginning of this year. 

Need for specialised healthcare and particularly need for intensive care continue to increase

The need for intensive care has clearly increased within the past month and particularly within the past few days. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care is the highest in hospitals within the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. Some intensive care patients have been transferred from hospitals within the catchment area for highly specialised medical care of the Helsinki University Central Hospital to other hospitals where the burden on intensive care units is not as high. The need for hospital care is forecast to remain high in the coming weeks. 

On 24 March, a total of 295 patients were receiving hospital care due to the COVID-19 disease. Of them, 72 were inpatients in primary healthcare, 161 inpatients in specialised healthcare and 62 inpatients in intensive care. On 24 March 2021, the total number of deaths related to the disease was 811.

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. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare also updated its monitoring of the social impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on 24 March 2021.

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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