Monday May 20, 2024

COVID wave reaches peak, deaths to rise for weeks

Published : 02 Dec 2023, 02:04

  DF Report
DF File Photo.

The coronavirus pandemic wave has already peaked, but the number of deaths is still likely to rise in the next few weeks, said the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in a press release on Friday.

The wave of the coronavirus epidemic began in early autumn. This was reflected in the number of coronavirus-related deaths already in September.

"Based on the figures for the past few weeks, it seems that the number of coronavirus-related deaths is growing at the same rate as it did a year ago. Coronavirus infection has become one of the causes of autumn respiratory tract infections and related deaths," said Sirkka Goebeler, Chief Specialist of the THL.

Based on registered infections, this autumn's epidemic wave has been harder on the oldest age groups than ever before. Healthy older people have experienced moderately mild symptoms, but some older people have also died due to coronavirus infection.

This autumn's coronavirus deaths have been strongly focused on the oldest age group. The median age of patients that have died from coronavirus is now 85 years, 87 for women and 84 for men.

As the pandemic progresses, it should be noted that in infectious deaths of older and ailing patients, the pathogen is not laboratory-verified if the result would not affect the patient's treatment.

"This autumn, coronavirus has caused deaths among patients that are in very poor condition. If there is no exact diagnosis of the infection the person had at the time of death, the death is not recorded as coronavirus-related even if coronavirus could have caused it. Similarly, the annual numbers of deaths caused by e.g. influenza or RSV are always underestimates," said Tuija Leino, Chief Physician of THL.

Almost 2,500 deaths that have occurred within thirty days of a coronavirus infection have been registered this year.

In most of these deaths, coronavirus was either the cause of death or a contributory cause of death. Last year, 6,800 cases were registered in which death occurred within one month of a coronavirus infection.

"Death certificates confirm the causes of death. So far in 2023, coronavirus has been recorded as the cause of death in approximately 1,200 death certificates. In addition, coronavirus infection has been reported to have contributed to approximately 1,000 deaths. In 2022, approximately 3,800 deaths were recorded to have been caused by coronavirus, and in approximately 2,400 cases, coronavirus was recorded to have contributed to the death. More and more often, the cause of death is something else than the coronavirus infection, typically a memory disorder or heart disease", Leino said.