The coronavirus epidemic is becoming more deadly in Finland, as the virus hits older adults more and more. On Thursday 17 December, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 12 deaths, one of the highest numbers recorded to date in just 24 hours.
At the same time, in its weekly assessment, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health reported an "alarming increase" in the number of infections among older people. This red flag comes just a week before Christmas, with tens of thousands of Finnish residents ready to move across the country to meet their loved ones and rest.
"It is alarming that more and more infections are found in older age groups and that there is a clear increase in the number of patients in need of hospital care," the Ministry and THL stressed in a joint press release.
Of the deaths reported on Thursday, 6 occurred in the Helsinki-Uusimaa hospital distcrict, 4 in the Kuopio region and 2 in the Turku area. So far, So far, 484 people have died from complications associated with the Covid-19 disease in Finland. Most of those fatalities (351) occurred in the capital region, the worst hit area.
The health agency also reported Thursday 351 new infections bringing Finland's total caseload to 32,228.
The total number of people hospitalized decreased to 264, which is 4 less than the day before. The number of patients in intensive care units decreased by 7, to 27.
The THL figures do not allow knowing to what extent the reduction in the number of people hospitalized is related to the increase in deaths.
In their latest weekly assessment, Finnish health authorities say "the number of new coronavirus infections is still at a high level, and community transmission is common in different age groups across Finland. It is alarming that more and more infections are found in older age groups and that there is a clear increase in the number of patients in need of hospital care."
The Ministry and THL say it will take "a few weeks" to see the impact of the stringent recommendations and restrictions introduced by regions in recent weeks.
The "positive news" is, according to the official assessment, that the more than month-long rapid increase in the number of new cases and incidence "has slowed down slightly over the past three weeks." Between 7 and 13 December, a total of 2,894 new infections were reported to the communicable diseases register, showing a decrease of 112 from the previous week.
On Thursday, Finland's incidence of new cases was 104 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 14-day period.