Decline of COVID-19 infections stops in Finland, but situation stable: ministry

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HELSINKI, July 23 (Xinhua) — The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said on Thursday the downward trend in COVID-19 infections in Finland has stopped, but the situation has remained stable.

Last week 40 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the national registry. It has remained at the same level for three weeks, the ministry said.

Kirsi Varhila, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, told Finnish national radio Yle that concrete measures have started with a view of a possible second wave.

“Clusters of infection would be tackled directly at the local or regional level,” Varhila said. The Infectious Diseases Act is being upgraded so that the Emergency Powers Act would not have to be resorted to. The threshold for “closing the country again” would be high, noted Varhila.

Finland is also planning COVID-19 tests at the border, following the easing of travel restrictions. A working group started last week to plan testing solutions for airports, harbours and the land borders.

Varhila said she was also concerned with the relaxed behaviour of young people in Finland. “I have considered whether new tools of modern communication should be used. I am not sure whether our factual information reaches young people now,” she said.

Finnish media has published pictures of young people lining up to restaurants and bars, without keeping distance. Restrictions on restaurant opening hours were all lifted last week.

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, as of Thursday afternoon, Finland has confirmed a total of 7,372 COVID-19 infections. The death toll stood at 328. An estimated 6,920 people have recovered, which is more than 90 percent of reported cases. Enditem

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