Cases of the new COVID-19 variant found in the UK diagnosed in Finland

Publication date 5 Jan 2021

So far, a total of 17 people have been diagnosed in Finland with the mutated coronavirus variant. The latest 14 diagnoses were made in recent laboratory studies, and three cases were reported earlier on 28 December 2020. The cases are mainly related to visiting the UK or other countries between 7 and 20 December 2020, and all the cases were identified as the new variant that has recently been spreading in the UK.

Five of the cases were found from the quarantined family members of the patients who had the new strain. A total of 14 people living in the same household as diagnosed patients or others in close contact with the patients have also been diagnosed with COVID-19, but a more detailed examination of the type of virus is still ongoing. In addition, some of the tests for people in close contact with the patients have not yet been completed. All new cases have been reported in Uusimaa and Kymenlaakso.  

Previously, three cases of the new variant have been diagnosed in Finland; two originating from the UK and one from South Africa. Norway, Sweden and Denmark have also reported several new cases of the new variant in recent days.  

The new variant of COVID-19 can spread faster than the previously known one. However, there is no evidence that the new variant causes a more serious disease or that it can re-infect those who have already had the coronavirus disease. The coronavirus vaccine is also expected to protect against the disease caused by the mutated strain. 

People arriving from the UK and South Africa directed to testing and quarantine

Based on THL's statement, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom decided on 31 December 2020 to extend the interruption of passenger air traffic from Britain to Finland until 11 January 2021. The Government is still recommending that people avoid any unnecessary travel to countries subject to restrictions on entry in Finland.

THL recommends that anyone who has visited the UK or South Africa on or after 7 December to get tested for coronavirus immediately after arrival, even if they have no symptoms or have already been tested.  

Learn more about travelling during the coronavirus pandemic

Breaking transmission chains is important

The authorities at border crossing points are making a concentrated effort to direct people arriving in Finland from the UK or South Africa to coronavirus testing and quarantine. The aim is to identify all cases of the new variant and anyone exposed to the disease as quickly as possible. 

Everyone exposed must quarantine carefully and isolate themselves from other people for 14 days. Regardless of symptoms, everyone exposed must be tested as soon as the exposure has been discovered, and again before ending the quarantine.

Social welfare and health care actors must ensure that persons suspected of having been infected with the new variant are immediately examined and directed to testing. Laboratories must send positive samples to a more detailed examination of the strain in accordance with THL's instructions.  

Additional information:

Taneli Puumalainen
Chief Physician
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
[email protected]

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