Sunday 12/5/21

Finnish Covid-19 positives related to Russia travel are Delta variant

The Finnish health agency (THL) confirmed that the first positive cases of Delta variant among football fans have been found in samples obtained on the eastern border

12 June 2021, Russia, Saint Petersburg: Belgium's Thomas Meunier scores his side's second goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group B soccer match between Russia and Belgium at Krestovsky Stadium. Photo: Igor Russak/dpa
The ball hits the net at Krestovsky Stadium, in St Petersburg, during the match between Russia and Belgium. Photo: Igor Russak/dpa.

The dreaded Delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India and now expanding in countries such as Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany, is prevalent among the Finns who were infected on trips to St. Petersburg to watch the Finnish soccer team's matches.

The Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) confirmed on Friday that the first positive cases of Delta Covid-19 variant among football fans have been found in samples obtained on the eastern border of the country.

According to a statement from THL, the sequencing of coronavirus samples taken at the Russian border during EURO 2020 has been completed. And this sequencing has allowed to verify that the positive cases correspond to the Delta variant.

According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, at least 4,500 Finnish fans traveled to St Petersburg to watch Euro 2020 matches. By 30 June, 386 football fans returning from Russia had tested positive for Covid-19, causing 50 further infections.

Most of the cases were reported in the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa (a total of 264 cases and 17 further infections) and in the Hospital Districts of Pirkanmaa (38 cases and 8 further infections) and Southwest Finland (31 cases and 5 further infections).

40% of cases linked to football

"Over 40% of the cases recorded between 21 and 27 June are directly linked to the Euro 2020 matches in Russia," emphasized the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Finnish health authorities say these trips to Russia have caused the total number of positive cases to rise again during the past week after several weeks declining.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has elevated the Delta variant to the list of virus variants of concern, due to its higher infectiousness and spread efficiency.

The Delta variant, formerly called the Indian variant, was found in Finland for the first time in March 2021 in travel-related cases.

Until last Wednesday, THL had reported 338 cases of this variant. Probably next week there will be updated data on the total number of cases.