Finland’s COVID-19 situation worsening rapidly, says PM

Finland’s COVID-19 situation worsening rapidly, says PM
The region around Helsinki will ban all public meetings both indoors and outdoors and send pupils and students of more than 15 years old home to remote learning, health authorities said. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 26 November 2020

Finland’s COVID-19 situation worsening rapidly, says PM

Finland’s COVID-19 situation worsening rapidly, says PM
  • Finland’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants stood at 75.8 on Wednesday

HELSINKI: Finland’s COVID-19 situation has worsened rapidly in recent days, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday, though she added that the government had decided it did not yet have the grounds to adopt emergency measures as it did in March.
Finland’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants stood at 75.8 on Wednesday, Europe’s second lowest level behind Iceland, European Center for Disease Prevention and Control data showed, but the Finnish government warned the number of new cases was rising at a worrying pace again.
In the worst hit region around the capital Helsinki, the number of new cases rose by nearly 70 percent last week from the week before, the region’s Chief Medical Officer Markku Makijarvi said.
“The coronavirus situation has worsened in Finland rapidly. The number of infections has increased and the amount of those in need of hospitalization has risen,” Marin told reporters.
“In my opinion, we should not rule out any measures,” she added, referring to the possibility of resorting to a national state of emergency again.
On Thursday, the government recommended regional authorities temporarily close all high-risk public spaces in regions where case numbers were rising rapidly.
New cases are on the rise in around half of the country, with two regions out of 21 more severely affected, health authorities said.
The region around Helsinki will ban all public meetings both indoors and outdoors and send pupils and students of more than 15 years old home to remote learning, among other measures, local health authorities said.


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
Updated 25 min 3 sec ago

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON: The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.