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91 infections in 24 hours

THL recommends use of facemask at public places

Published : 24 Sep 2020, 13:51

Updated : 24 Sep 2020, 23:19

  DF Report

DF File Photo.

The total number of coronavirus infections in the country has increased to 9,379 as 91 more cases were diagnosed in the last 24 hours, said the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the THL on Thursday updated its recommendation on the use of face masks.

The recommendation has been added with guidance for periods when the coronavirus epidemic is accelerating or spreading.

During periods when the coronavirus epidemic is accelerating, the use of face masks is recommended not only on public transport but also in other public spaces and events where close contacts cannot always be avoided, said a THL press release on Thursday.

If the epidemic situation continues to deteriorate, and if we move to the spreading phase, the use of protective equipment will be further extended, said the THL.

The guidelines are issued as support for regional authorities as they assess the epidemic situation in their respective regions and make regional recommendations on the use of face masks.

The number of coronavirus deaths in Finland, however, remains unchanged at 343, as no new death has been reported.

The last coronavirus death was reported on 23 September.

So far, a total of 279 people have died in the Helsinki-Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS), 25 in the Pohjois-Savo Hospital District (KYS), 20 in the Turku Hospital District (TYKS), 13 in the Pohjois-Pohjanmaa Hospital District (OYS), and six in the Tampere-Pirkanmaa (TAYS) Hospital District.

Until Thursday, 7,850 or more than 80% coronavirus-infected patients in Finland had recovered.

A total of 22 coronavirus patients, including four in intensive care units (ICUs), are now undergoing treatment at different hospitals.

According to the THL report, in relation to Finland’s total population (5,543,233), the prevalence of COVID-19 cases is 170 per 100,000 people.

Currently, laboratories in the country have the testing capacity of about 20,000 samples a day.

Meanwhile, the number of new COVID-19 cases has risen in Finland over the past few weeks, and more hospital districts are reporting new cases, said the THL.

The rising incidence, the growing share of positive samples, the increasing difficulties to trace sources of infection and the growing number of further infections all foreshadow an approaching acceleration stage in the epidemic. People under 30 years of age account for about 50% of all cases.

People are urged to take responsibility to prevent spread of infections by observing the authorities’ recommendations to keep a safe distance, practise good hygiene, wear masks, work from home, and show prudence when taking part in recreational activities. Recommendations can vary across Finland according to how the epidemic develops and on the success of identifying sources of infection.

During the latest period (14–20 September), a total of 448 new cases were reported to the communicable diseases register.

In the previous week (7–13 September), the number of reported cases was 350. The incidence of new cases was 8.1 per 100,000 inhabitants. It was 6.3 per 100,000 inhabitants in the preceding week (7–13 September). For three weeks now, the weekly increase in the number of cases has been around 100 cases.

In recent weeks, domestic COVID-19 clusters and mass exposures have led to further infections. Mass infections show how efficiently the virus is transmitted between persons who are in close contact for a longer time.

Cases with unknown source of infection accounted for about 44% of all new cases in the latest period (14–20 September).

The virus has spread within families and educational institutions and through recreational activities and private events. The background information is based on the information reported by 12 hospital districts and the City of Helsinki, covering over 200 cases.

The Ministry of Education and Culture and the THL have issued an expanded set of instructions for public events, gatherings, and public spaces in the wake of increasing number of coronavirus infections.

Social distancing must be maintained at public events, gatherings, and public spaces to avoid close contact, said the THL press release.

The number of people present must be restricted so that one to two metres of space can be kept between individuals and groups of people.

Earlier, on 22 September, the regional state administrative agencies of Finland issued their decisions on public events, which take effect in October.

The organisers of public events are urged to recommend the use of face masks in accordance with the prevailing epidemic situation, if close contact cannot be avoided for the full duration of the event.

Loud vocalisations at public events, such as cheering, increases the risk of droplet infection.

“However, the use of a mask does not eliminate the need for other precautions,” said THL Medical Specialist Emmi Sarvikivi.