Number of Covid-19 hospitalisations continues to rise in Finland

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Number of Covid-19 hospitalisations continues to rise in Finland

Countries in Europe have drawn the conclusion that it is necessary to learn to live with the coronavirus as restrictions can delay but not altogether prevent new infections, tells Mika Salminen, the head of health security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

MIKA SALMINEN, the head of health security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), does not consider the current epidemiological situation dramatic despite a recent increase in hospitalisations.

“We in Finland have had a pretty stable situation for almost two months. We’ve seen almost the same case numbers week after week,” he said to YLE on Thursday. “The strain on hospitals is relatively high, and it has crept up in recent times. The numbers seem to be pretty stable in intensive care.”

A total of 820 patients were in hospital care, including 38 in intensive care, with the coronavirus disease in Finland on Thursday. The number of hospitalised patients had fluctuated between 600 and 650 between mid-January and early February.

The daily number of new infections is presently in the thousands.

Salminen added that he sees only little benefit in restoring restrictions on social and business life in an attempt to manage the situation. Countries across the Nordics and Europe, he highlighted, have drawn the conclusion that it is necessary to learn to live with the coronavirus and that restrictions can only defer the problem to the future.

“All Nordic countries have removed their restrictions and recognised that restrictions can’t prevent new infections forever,” he said.

“Tremendously much has been done to enable people to protect themselves against the coronavirus. Vaccines have been given to basically the entire population and everyone is able to get them. If someone chooses not to, it’s their own decision.”

The high incidence of infections will inevitably lead to deaths, he conceded.

“Of course it isn’t nice that people are dying of a communicable disease, but we can’t simply eradicate the disease. The number of deaths relative to cases is, in fact, at its lowest level ever [during the pandemic],” Salminen told YLE.

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén (SDP) nonetheless expressed his concern about the elderly, estimating that fourth vaccine injections could be necessary. While Salminen assured that fourth vaccine doses will be offered if they are deemed necessary, he also reminded that it remains unclear whether they offer significant long-term benefits for the elderly.

THL announced earlier this week it has scrapped its plan to ease the nationwide mask recommendation this week on grounds of the high number of infections.

Lindén welcomed the decision, saying: “There has been talk about how big an impact masks have, but masks also have symbolic value in that they serve as reminders that we’re living in the middle of a pandemic.”

Salminen declined to speculate how long the recommendation would stay in effect but pointed out that mask recommendations have already been lifted by other Nordic countries.

Both Lindén and Salminen predicted that Finland should find itself in an easier epidemiological situation as a consequence of seasonal variation somewhere between April and early June. Setbacks, though, remain possible.

One external factor complicating the situation is the threat of widespread strike looming over the health care industry. The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals (Tehy) and the Union of Practical Nurses (Super) on Thursday issued a warning of a two-week strike covering around 40,000 nurses across 13 hospital districts.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Source: www.helsinkitimes.fi

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