Europe has seen major changes in coronavirus case rates over the last two months. In many areas of Europe covid case rates have dropped sufficiently to allow restrictions to be eased, but there are notable exceptions. The Covid-19 rate in Spain now appears to be as bad, if not worse, than two months ago, and the Netherlands has seen a dramatic increase in numbers recently.
In the case of both Spain and the Netherlands, the rates increased following the decision to unlock their countries too quickly, and in both cases those decisions have had to reversed within weeks. Greece too appears to be seeing a new wave, and these areas now represent the largest threat to Europe’s strategy to keeping infection rates down.
“There are more than 200 coronavirus cases traceable to St. Petersburg across the country – THL director urges returnees from St. Petersburg to go for corona tests instead of work”
Most of the coronary infections brought by St. Petersburg travellers are in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The likelihood that the infections are due to a susceptible delta transformation is high.
YLE.fi report (in Finnish)
Finland’s PPE guidance for healthcare workers (HCW) has been updated following the Kanta-Häme hospital Delta variant outbreak. “The use of FFP2/3 respirators in all patient contacts with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients is recommended.”
“Generally, HCWs have a higher risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection compared to the general population. Despite the high exposure to SARS-CoV-2, none of the ICU workers got a clear occupational COVID-19 infection, whereas working in a cohort COVID-19 ward or a normal ward with COVID-19 patients seems to have a high-risk association for occupational COVID-19 infections.
All ICU workers and most laboratory workers used FFP2/3 respirators and aerosol precautions when working with COVID-19 patients, whereas the PPE used in the wards followed droplet precautions with surgical masks. Notably, 29.3% of the infections were from colleagues, thus also requiring special attention for social distances and infection control measures between co-workers.
As practical implications, the use of FFP2/3 respirators in all patient contacts with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients is recommended.
Also, as a high number of COVID-19 infections and exposures among HCWs are from colleagues, the authors recommend the use of universal masking during the shift, also in personnel rooms. Safety distances and other means of infection control in the hospital environment need more research and implementation in the workplace to ensure HCWs’ safety during pandemics.
Finland research paper: Sources of Healthcare worker’s Covid-19 infections and related safety guidlines
In Kanta-Häme hospital epidemic, about 80% of those infected with corona have received at least the first dose of vaccine. The [Delta] variant of the coronavirus has been revealed to be the cause of the hospital epidemic. “The [B.1.617.2 Delta variant] is very easily spread.” says Chief Physician of the Kanta-Häme Hospital District Sally Leskinen. According to Leskinen, it is worrying that the precautions that have stopped the spread of previous virus variants in hospitals have not been effective enough now. “The fact that the surgical mask has been used in all situations and that patients with symptoms of infection have extensive protective equipment is not enough now,” says Leskinen.
The coronavirus epidemic has spread from Hämeenlinna to Kanta-Häme Central Hospital to health center hospitals in Hämeenlinna, Riihimäki and Forssa. There are a total of 80 infected in the chains. Hämeenlinna Central Hospital has two infection chains with a total of more than 50 infections. In addition, Riihimäki Hospital has a chain of 30 infections.
“The virus is easily infected. In those wards where infections occurred before the first cases occurred and the chains of infection were curtailed, 40 percent of patients have become infected,” says Sally Leskinen. Now the spread has been stopped and no new surprising infections have been detected in hospitals. Family members of nursing staff have also become infected, which in turn has caused extensive exposure situations in schools.
The majority of nursing staff have already received two coronary vaccinations, but still in Kanta-Häme, 11 per cent of the staff of the hospital epidemic outpatient department have been infected. About half of the infected nursing staff have had symptoms, some of them more severe.
HS.fi report (in Finnish)
Helsinki Times report (In English)
** UPDATE 3rd August 2021 ** Eurosurveillance report:
“Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 occurred in almost every unit of the central hospital. Some exposed patients had been transferred to four of the six primary care facilities. In three of these four facilities, the outbreak spread through transfers that took place before the outbreak was detected. In the fourth facility, the transfer happened after outbreak detection and the exposed patient was quarantined and there was no further spread.”
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday that democratic governments can make vaccinations obligatory, in a landmark judgement rejecting complaints brought by Czech families penalised for refusing compulsory jabs for their children.
“The… measures could be regarded as being ‘necessary in a democratic society'” the court ruled, saying that the Czech health policy was consistent with the “best interests” of children.
Our opinion: ** Is there an easier or quicker way of antagonising parents in the middle of a global viral pandemic than encouraging mandatory vaccinations? We can’t think of one. Expect severe blowback **
The Finnish coronavirus variant FIN-796H, discovered in February, is not unique to Finland, it has also been found in other parts of the world.
THL’s leading expert Carita Savolainen-Kopra says that a strain named the FIN-796H variant has been found in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, among others.
It is not a question of the Finnish variant spreading to other countries, but the virus type also occurs in other parts of the world, i.e. the Finnish variant is not unique domestic, as was widely past reported.
Leading expert Carita Savolainen-Kopra says that the matter was clarified a few weeks ago by comparing the inherited viruses with international data.
“The entire genomic sequence was made for the transformation in THL. From this it is possible to deduce which line the virus belongs to. Based on international databases, there are finds elsewhere than in Finland.”
Editors note: sounds like B.1.525 – to be confirmed…
The virus variant of South Africa has been confirmed as the cause of the coronavirus infections among students in Turku, Finland. However, the transformation observed at Turku University Central Hospital (Tyks) is not identical to the original South African variant, but seems to have transformed further, says the Hospital District of Southwest Finland.
The matter was clarified in laboratory tests performed in Tyks.
“We found that it is probably a modified virus, and the so-called gene sequencing ensured that the virus has several other changes in addition to those characteristic of the South African variant. So far, we don’t know where the variant came from. These will become clear later when the entire genome of the virus is known” says chief physician of molecular microbiology and virology, Tytti Vuorinen, in a press release.
According to Vuorinen, this is possibly a new type of coronavirus variant. This will be confirmed later in so-called whole genome sequencing.
So far, there is no information on whether a similar modified variant has been found in other countries.
So far, it has not been shown that the modified South African coronavirus variant is more severe than usual. The symptoms of those infected have been fairly mild and the patients have not needed hospital treatment, the release says.
According to the hospital district, the finding does not justify changing the current recommendations.
More than 90 infections have been detected in the Turku cluster.
“Wheezing, chest or stomach pain, swelling or coldness in an arm or leg, severe headache or worsening or blurred vision after vaccination, persistent bleeding, small multiple bruises, reddish or purplish spots or blisters of blood under the skin” – if you have these symptoms after vaccination against Covid with AstraZeneca serum seek medical help immediately and report that you have recently been vaccinated.
Two suspected blood clots after vaccination in Finland – the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine is temporarily suspended
The Finnish authorities have decided to take a break from vaccinations with AstraZeneca’s corona vaccine – just in case. The reason is that they still want to investigate the vaccine’s connection to unusual blood clots – sinus thrombosis.
Two suspected cases of blood clots after vaccinations have been discovered in Finland.
It has been established that young women have reacted to the vaccine and we do not know why, said Hanna Nohynek, vaccine specialist at the Institute for Health and Welfare, at the authorities’ press conference. It is mainly 20-50-year-old women who have been linked to the possible side effects.
The symptoms detected are very rare. At the moment it is not possible to say whether the disorders in the blood coagulation are related to the vaccination.
In Finland, the increase in the number of new cases of corona has been about 250 per cent among children under the age of 10, when comparing the situation in the last four weeks (weeks 7–10) with the four weeks in November last year.
The change for all other age groups averaged about 80 percent over the same period.
A South African variant of the virus has been detected in sequencing from one previously reported chain of infection in the Essote area of Finland. Among the cases was one person who had already received both vaccines. Clearly younger people in the chain than in the previous infection chain were hospitalized. This indicates that special care must be taken due to virus variants. In a few days, even a good situation in the surrounding areas may have become very difficult, reminds Director of Health Services at Essote Santeri Seppäl.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marinin is concerned about possible new variants of the coronavirus that may be resistant to vaccines.
“I’m worried about what happens next fall or next spring. It may be that this is not even a marathon, but we will be in this situation for years to come,” she told reporters when he went to the board evening school at the Helsinki Estates House on Wednesday afternoon.
Marin said that she had constantly emphasized at EU meetings the need to create a common “emergency procedure” at the borders of EU countries, which would prevent the spread of viral variants in the event of their occurrence. “We need consistent practices across the EU.”
European Medicines Agency (EMA), the corona vaccine from the manufacturer Astra-Zeneca can cause severe allergic reactions. Anaphylaxis and hypersensitivity reactions should be included in the list of possible side effects of the vaccine citing , the EMA said on Friday, several such cases in the UK.
A study has found that high pollen counts, partially affected by air humidity and temperature, contributed to a more than 40 percent increase in coronavirus infection frequency.
Exposure to pollen weakens the immune system’s defence reactions against certain seasonal viruses.
This means that exposure to pollen can impair the body’s ability to fight viruses, according to the University of Turku and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), which issued a joint statement about the study’s findings on Tuesday.
The organisations noted that Finland’s pollen season is about to begin and that people should limit their exposure to it.
“It’s important to pay particular attention to times when pollen concentrations are high. Exposure to pollen should be reduced, for example, by avoiding outdoor activities when pollen concentrations are high or by protecting the respiratory tract,” said Mikhail Sofiev, an FMI research professor who participated in the analysis of the research data.
In most cases, infection frequency increased four days after the peak pollen concentration, which roughly corresponds to the incubation period of the coronavirus.