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Press release by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
COVID-19 situation improving in Finland with no increase in number of people requiring hospital care

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
6.5.2021 10.00 | Published in English on 6.5.2021 at 14.15
Press release 121/2021

The number of new COVID-19 cases continued to decline between 26 April and 2 May although the rate of decline slowed down slightly. The regional differences in the development of the epidemic have also evened out to some extent. The number of people getting tested is commendably high. It is expected that the need for hospital care will decrease slowly.

Because the number of new COVID-19 cases remains high, it is justified to uphold comprehensive and effective measures to prevent infections in regions. Rapid developments in the epidemic are still possible and different virus variants increase uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Proportionate restrictive measures together with effective testing and rapid contact tracing can strengthen the favourable trend in the development of the epidemic. This is imperative so that the restrictions can be eased and society can gradually reopen as summer is arriving. 

Fall in incidence of cases

Between 26 April and 2 May, about 1,350 new cases were reported to the communicable diseases register, showing a decrease of about 250 cases from the previous week. The number of new cases was 73 per cent lower between 26 April and 2 May than between 8 and 14 March, when the number of cases was highest during the entire epidemic (4,941 cases). The incidence of new cases was 25 per 100,000 inhabitants between 26 April and 2 May, while in the previous week it was 29.

The total number of new cases reported in the last two-week period was about 2,980, which is around 1,490 cases fewer than in the preceding two-week period. The incidence of new cases was 54 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the preceding two-week period it was 81.

Currently, the estimated basic reproduction number is 0.65–0.85, with a 90 per cent probability.

Proportion of cases of foreign origin grew slightly from previous week

The majority of new cases were of domestic origin. The number of cases where the virus was contracted abroad has remained at the same level in recent weeks, but owing to the decrease in the total number of cases, the proportion of cases of foreign origin grew by 1.5 percentage points from the previous week, currently standing at 7.0 per cent. The further infections resulting from them accounted for 1.6 per cent of all cases. 

Between 26 April and 2 May, the source of infection was traced in almost 70 per cent of all new cases of domestic origin. The success rate for contact tracing was thus at the same level as the week before. Around 24 per cent of new cases were reported among people already in quarantine.

Between 26 April and 2 May, the incidence in all age groups under 50 years of age was down on the previous week. The incidence decreased the most among 20–29-year-olds. The incidence rate was highest among 10–19-year-olds. There are regional differences in the incidence of cases by age group.
More than 114,000 COVID-19 tests were taken between 26 April and 2 May. Between 26 April and 2 May, the percentage of positive samples of those tested was about 1.2 per cent.

Number of people requiring hospital care more or less at same level

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital care was highest at the end of March before Easter (between 22 March and 4 April). After this, the total number of patients in hospital care has reduced by half. However, over the past two weeks, the number of patients has remained relatively stable. 

On Wednesday 5 May, there were 24 patients in intensive care, 33 inpatients in primary healthcare and 73 inpatients in specialised healthcare. The total number of COVID-19 inpatients was 130. The need for hospital care is expected to decrease.

On 5 May 2021, the total number of deaths related to the disease was 918.

Wastewater monitoring provides information on development of epidemic

This week the monitoring report on the epidemic includes an attachment providing information on wastewater monitoring for COVID-19, which the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has carried out at 28 wastewater treatment plants since April 2020. The virus is still present in wastewater around the country. Between 18 and 19 April 2021, SARS-CoV-2 genomes were detected in samples collected from 24 wastewater treatment plants. 

The observations made in the wastewater study support the national epidemiological assessment. By monitoring wastewater, the authorities will also know in advance when the virus has arrived in the region, although there would be no identified cases of COVID-19 through testing. Therefore, the information obtained through wastewater monitoring helps assess and anticipate changes in the COVID-19 situation in the country.

The monitoring report on the epidemic published today together with its attachments and the previous reports are available on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. 

Inquiries:

Otto Helve, Chief Physician, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, [email protected] (development of the epidemic)
Kari Auranen, Senior Researcher, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, [email protected] (projection models)
Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki, Director of Strategic Affairs, 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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