Coronavirus The graphs show why there is reason to be concerned about border traffic in Finland: the disease situation in neighboring countries is much gloomier than in Finland

The coronavirus situation in Finland is currently stable. In neighboring countries, the disease is now spreading rapidly.

Finland The grim coronavirus situation in neighboring countries also threatens Finland. According to statistics, a larger proportion of Finland’s new coronavirus infections come from abroad, and there is still a lot of traffic at the borders, even though travel has decreased during the pandemic.

On Thursday, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said that 11 per cent of new cases of the disease are diagnosed in passengers arriving in Finland. As early as the beginning of the autumn, passengers accounted for only 4–5% of new cases diagnosed.

According to THL, the increase in the share may be due to the deterioration of the disease situation in countries from which people arrive or return to Finland. On the other hand, border testing has also been increased since the end of the year, which may also explain the increase in travel-related cases.

The disease situation now appears to be weak, especially in Sweden and Estonia.

Coronavirus pandemic caused the number of passengers in Finland to collapse last April. During the summer, passenger numbers increased again. In December, about a quarter of the usual number of passengers arrived in the country.

Passenger numbers are recorded according to the country of departure. For example, a Finn working in Sweden may end up in entry statistics several times.

Thus, more than half a million people came to the country from abroad. In terms of the risk of the virus variant spreading, the number is high.

Border crossings at the land borders between Finland and Sweden, Finland and Russia, and Finland and Norway have clearly decreased.

However, there is still a lot of traffic. For example, at the Tornio border crossing point, the border between Finland and Sweden is crossed about 15,000–18,000 times every weekday. The figure includes both people entering and leaving the country.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, there were about 40,000 border crossings a day, says a Border Guard guard officer Jari Rantala From the Tornio border crossing point.

“Most of those who cross the border are from the border community. In addition to them, there is mainly commuting and heavy traffic, ”says Rantala.

If a new subtype of coronavirus spreading faster than before starts to spread in Sweden or Estonia, the risk of the variant spreading to Finland is also obvious.

Passenger flights From Britain, Ireland and South Africa to Finland has been suspended until at least the end of the week.

The virus variant, for example, has seen a sharp increase in the number of infections in recent weeks in a peaceful Ireland. At the beginning of December, the incidence of coronavirus infections in relation to the population was higher in Finland than in Ireland. Now the incidence rate of the coronavirus is already higher in Ireland than in the UK.

The situation in Ireland is explained by a viral variant set in motion in Britain. The proportion of variant infections in Ireland increased rapidly during the last weeks of December.

In three weeks, the proportion of variation in disease cases increased from less than 10 percent to 25 percent. Now the variant accounts for almost half of all cases.

Read more: Is Finland ready if the new virus variant spreads? “There is no definite information about what is worth doing and what is not,” admits Mika Salminen from THL

The Irish public health authorities stated in its progress report last Thursday, that conversion partly explains the increase in the number of cases.

Also The Finnish government is reacting to the situation. The government intends to step up measures to prevent the spread of the modified virus.

Government asked on Wednesday inter alia, the Ministry of the Interior to prepare a proposal to tighten border traffic. In addition to the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM) and some other ministries are also preparing proposals for other necessary additional measures. They are scheduled to be discussed in government talks next week.

Read more: What pandemic measures are possible at Finland’s borders? Law scholars propose a separate law

At least yet the new virus variant is not known to spread uncontrollably in Finland or its neighboring countries. By Wednesday, 61 infections caused by virus variants had been detected in Finland. In Sweden, they had been detected by Tuesday 28.

What makes statistics on virus variants difficult is that not all countries, including Finland, currently have the capacity to analyze every positive virus sample for a variant. THL’s chief physician told about the matter Taneli Puumalainen on Thursday at a press conference by THL and STM.

Read more: The origin of the infection caused by the three virus variants has not been determined, the majority of which have been linked to tourism

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