New COVID-19 cases still reported in large numbers across Finland — contact tracing takes time but is effective

Publication date 4 Feb 2021

The number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to grow the week before last, and this trend continued between 25 and 31 January. The positive news is that the number of people tested in the whole of Finland was considerably higher at the end of January than in late December and early January. Contact tracing works well in municipalities although it takes a lot of hard work. It is essential to trace and break new chains of transmission quickly.

The regional recommendations and restrictions are effective, and the need for hospital care has remained relatively stable since the beginning of this year. People have followed the recommendations and restrictions in place, although the prolonged COVID-19 epidemic is putting a strain on many people’s coping mechanisms and patience. 

COVID-19 vaccinations are underway across the country, and the municipalities are well prepared for vaccinations. How fast different population groups can be vaccinated depends on the volume of vaccine doses Finland receives and how quickly they are received in this global pandemic.

Rise in the incidence of new cases

Between 25 and 31 January, a total of 2,592 new cases were reported to the communicable diseases register, representing an increase of 258 from the previous week. The incidence of new cases was 47 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is much more than in the previous week when the figure was 42.
The total number of new cases in the last two-week period (18–31 January) was 4,926, which was 1,353 cases more than in the preceding two-week period. The incidence of new cases was 89 per 100,000 inhabitants, while in the preceding two-week period it was 65.

Currently, the estimated basic reproduction number is 0.9–1.1, with a 90 per cent probability.
Between 25 and 31 January, more people got tested. A total of over 105,000 tests were conducted. Of these, about 2.5% were positive.

In Finland as a whole, the source of infection was traced in 63% of all new cases of domestic origin. About one fourth of new cases were reported among people already in quarantine. The number of mass exposures is high, and transmission chains originating from gatherings of young adults have attracted particular attention. Between 25 and 31 January, a total of 13,650 were quarantined. 

Same measures used to prevent infections from new virus variants

So far, a total of 127 cases of the new virus variants have been confirmed in Finland. With the new variants, the ways to prevent the virus from spreading are the same as before — avoid physical contact, keep a safe distance of over two meters from other people, observe good hand, respiratory and cough hygiene, and wear a face mask. All those with even the mildest COVID-19 symptoms must get tested promptly and those who are sick must remain at home. People can also download the Koronavilkku app to their smartphones to help break chains of transmission.

Analysis of waste water shows coronavirus has spread throughout the country

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare is examining the presence of coronavirus in waste water at 28 waste water treatment plants in Finland. This study supports the observations about the incidence of COVID-19 — the virus is still present throughout the country. During the latest broad-scale monitoring period between 24 and 25 January 2021, SARS-CoV-2 genomes were detected in samples collected from 26 waste water treatment plants.

Number of people requiring hospital care at the same level as before

On 3 February, a total of 129 patients were receiving hospital care due to the COVID-19 disease. Of them, a total of 23 were inpatients in primary healthcare, 83 inpatients in specialised healthcare and 23 inpatients in intensive care. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care is the highest in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa. 

On 3 February 2021, the total number of deaths related to the disease was 685.

The monitoring report on the epidemic published today and the previous reports are available on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.


Mika Salminen (development of the epidemic)
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
[email protected]

Taneli Puumalainen (development of the epidemic)
Chief Physician
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
[email protected] 

Kari Auranen (projection models)
Senior Researcher
Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
[email protected]

Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki (situational picture and modelling group)
Strategic Director
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
[email protected]

Pasi Pohjola (situational picture and modelling group)
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
[email protected] 

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