HUS: Half of new coronavirus cases are patients with foreign backgrounds

The Chief of Infectious Diseases says that most of the new cases of coronavirus in the capital city region are being confirmed in young people - a trend seen across Europe.

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File picture of Helsinki metro with signs advising the use of face masks, September 2020 / Credit: News Now Finland

Around half of the recent new cases of coronavirus in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District HUS are people with foreign backgrounds, according to a senior doctor.

HUS Chief Physician of Infectious Diseases Asko Järvinen says although the number of cases in Uusimaa is still relatively small compared with the spring, there is data showing more infections are concentrated in eastern parts of the capital – areas which have a traditionally higher number of immigrant residents, often living in crowded accommodation.

“What we are seeing now is about half of the cases have a foreign name, a non-Finnish name. But evidently it seems to go around in the same manner as in the spring” he tells News Now Finland.

The wider trend for coronavirus in Finland is similar to what’s being experienced in other European countries, with a majority of new cases confirmed in younger people.

“The vast majority of those who got the virus now are between 15 and 40, even below 30 this is the heavy group. And older people are more or less without the virus, we don’t see them. During the last days there are a few cases in older people, above 40, but otherwise it seems to be the younger ones, like all the other Nordic countries as well” Järvinen says.

Epidemiologist testing samples / Credit: iStock

Rising cases nationally connected to clusters

On Wednesday afternoon THL reports that 93 new cases were confirmed in the last day, with 50 connected to known clusters in different parts of the country, for example a hockey team in Mikkeli or student gatherings.

However, while there has been growing numbers of confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis over the past month, compared to the spring healthcare authorities are seeing hardly any patients admitted to hospital or intensive care during this second resurgence of the virus.

“I think there are two main reasons. One is that the infection goes around among younger people now, and the absolute risk risk level that they would get so sick they need hospital care is quite low. It’s one percent or lower, and it increases with age. After the age of 50 it increases, and after the age of 60 it increases quite deeply” Järvinen explains.

He also says that the number of tests being done every day is more than ten times higher than in the spring, when people were advised to simply wait at home if they had any symptoms. Now, with a low threshold for testing, healthcare authorities are much more able to keep track of most known cases.

“We are testing a lot and most probably we see a large proportion of those who have got the infection are in our hands now” says Dr Järvinen.

“The positive proportion of the tests has been quite constant. It’s been around 0.2% and 0.3%. Last week we had a little bit more we had 0.4% in the HUS Lab. But in the whole country it’s been around 0.2%” he says.