The number and incidence of new covid-19 cases in Finland are on the rise and "the epidemic situation could deteriorate rapidly across the country."
This is the alarming message transmitted on Thursday by the Finnish health authorities in their weekly assessment of the development of the epidemic in the Nordic country.
According to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), the situation is particularly complicated in the area of the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), where the majority of the infections have been detected during the past week.
In total, 1,534 new cases were detected between 9 and 15 of November in Finland, of which 986 (or 64%) were reported in the HUS area.
The total number of infections found in the last two-week period was 2946, compared with 2690 in the previous two weeks. The incidence of new cases increased to about 53 cases per 100,000 people, from 49 in the previous two weeks.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which monitors the epidemic across the European states, Finland's incidence of cases was 54.5 at the time of writing this article.
More cases in Helsinki region
In the capital region, the number of cases has been increasing in the past three weeks by about one hundred per week. However, the situation in hospitals and intensive care units is relatively good. On Wednesday there were 54 people in hospitals for the Covid-19 disease in the HUS area, of which 5 were admitted to intensive care units.
Nationwide, the source of new infections was identified in around 52% of the cases, while in the Helsinki area this percentage is significantly lower, 38%.
More than half of the new infections (55%) were detected among people living in the same household. Infections at work account for about 20% and those contracted from hobbies and leisure activities are about 5%.
Infections increasing among the elderly
Although the majority of infections are found in younger age groups and working-age adults, there are somewhat more cases in older age groups than in previous weeks, THL says.
During the last week, the proportion of people over the age of 60 increased to more than 12%. And the proportion of people over the age of 70 has risen alarmingly to 6%, compared with around 3-4% in the last month.
According to THL, people over the age of 70 are at increased risk of developing a more severe form of coronavirus disease, so the health agency considers essential protecting them now.
So far, around 20,000 people have contracted the coronavirus in Finland.