Officials track down most of those exposed to coronavirus in Arctic Finland

Markku Broas, a chief physician specialising in infectious diseases at Lapland Hospital District, said health authorities had lowered the number of people possibly exposed to 21 from 24. Photo taken in Rovaniemi, Finland, on January 29, 2020. (Kaisa Siren/Lehtikuva/Reuters)
On Sunday Lapland health officials said they had contacted three more travellers—already back in Singapore and France—suspected to have been exposed to the virus in Finnish Lapland.

Markku Broas, an infectious diseases specialist at the Lapland hospital district, said health authorities had lowered the number of people possibly exposed to 21 from 24 after information emerged that fewer people than initially believed were present at an excursion with the infected individual. Earlier this week, Finland confirmed its first case in a young woman visiting Lapland from Wuhan in China, where the virus emerged in December

Broas said that if the Chinese woman was not exhibiting symptoms, plans for her return travel could already be made next week, provided she tests negative for coronavirus on two consecutive days.

Finnish officials are still trying to confirm the identity of four travellers exposed to the virus in Saariselkä, Finnish Lapland.

Many Chinese tourists are currently visiting Lapland, though China’s travel restrictions have significantly dampened visitor volumes.

“The incubation period for coronavirus ranges from two to 12 days, making it possible for new travel-related cases to still emerge in Finland,” Taneli Puumalainen of Finnish health watchdog THL told Yle on Sunday.

A Chinese tourist visiting Ivalo in Finnish Lapland has been admitted to Lapland Central Hospital where he has been confirmed to have the deadly new strain of coronavirus. General view of Lapland Central Hospital in Rovaniemi, Finland, January 29, 2020. (Kaisa Siren/Lehtikuva/Reuters)
Mortality rate 2%

Figures from this weekend show 14,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in China, the majority in Hubei province, China’s centre of the epidemic. The virus has claimed more than 300 lives in China. This weekend a man died of coronavirus in the Philippines, marking the first confirmed fatality outside China.

“In light of these numbers the mortality rate of coronavirus is around two percent,” Puumalainen said.

He added that when asymptomatic, coronavirus does not transmit easily.

“The ability of asymptomatic people to infect others seems very low. There can of course be exceptions, but when looking at the bigger picture this hardly ever happens.”

Most of those infected are middle-aged or older and many of those dying had an underlying illness. The number of children coming down with coronavirus is very small, according to Puumalainen.

“This is the opposite of influenza, where lots of children are sick and who are pretty efficient at spreading the infection. Now it looks as if it’s the grandparents spreading the virus,” he explained.

Finns leave Wuhan

Finland’s embassy in Beijing helped three Finns in Wuhan board a France-bound evacuation flight that landed in Marseille at 4pm on Sunday. The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs said French officials would handle any further health-related issues of the 350 European citizens on board.

The Finnish embassy in Beijing has meanwhile said it will continue to help Finns evacuate Hubei province.

In Finland, the Lapland Police Department this week said that it had received several inquiries about the possibility of extending Chinese tourist visas. These inquiries have come from both individual travellers and tour operators.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: No confirmed cases of coronavirus in Canadian Arctic, but here’s how they’re preparing, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s first coronavirus case confirmed in Lapland, Yle News

Norway: Concern over coronavirus outbreak impacts tourism in northern Europe and Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Mass vaccination against anthrax continues on Yamal Peninsula, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Warnings in Sweden about dangerous bacteria in Baltic Sea, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska sees first measles case since 2015, Alaska Public Media

Yle News

For more news from Finland visit Yle News.

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *