2020 coronavirus pandemic in Finland

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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Finland
COVID-19 per capita cases map of Finland.svg
Confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China
Index caseInari
Arrival dateBetween 23 January and 28 January 2020
(Between 2 months and 6 days and 2 months, 1 week and 4 days ago)[a]
Confirmed cases1,518[3]

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Finland is an ongoing viral pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case of COVID-19 in Finland during the 2019–20 worldwide pandemic was confirmed on 29 January 2020, when a Chinese tourist visiting Ivalo from Wuhan tested positive for the virus.[1]


On 31 December 2019, the Health Commission of Wuhan, Hubei, China, informed the WHO about a cluster of acute pneumonia cases with unknown origin in its province. On 9 January 2020, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) reported the identification of a novel coronavirus (later identified as the SARS-CoV-2) as the cause.[4] On 27 January, following the developments of COVID-19 outbreak in mainland China, Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs advised citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to Hubei province.[5] The following day, Finnair announced it would be suspending its five weekly routes to Nanjing and Beijing Daxing until the end of March.[6]


COVID-19 cases in Finland  ()
     Deaths        Active cases
# of cases
# of deaths
227(+44.6 %)
521(+16.3%) 1
626(+20.2%) 1(=)
700(+17.8%) 1(=)
792(+15.6%) 1(=)
880(+14.0%) 3(+200%)
958(+12.8%) 5(+66.7%)
1,058(+11.6%) 7(+40.0%)
1,167(+10.5%) 9(+28.6%)
1,240(+5.9%) 11(+22.2%)
1,355(+9.3%) 13(+18.2%)
1,418(+4.6%) 17(+30.8%)
1,446(+1.9%) 17(=)
1,518(+4.9%) 19(+11.8%)
— Testing strategy changed in several regions.[7]
Source: National Institute for Health and Welfare (updated once a day),[8] Helsingin Sanomat (updated in real-time)[3]

On 29 January, Finland confirmed the first case of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).[9] A 32-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan sought medical attention in Ivalo and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. She had travelled from Wuhan. She was quarantined at Lapland Central Hospital in Rovaniemi.[10][1][11][2] The woman recovered and was discharged on 5 February after testing negative on two consecutive days.[12]

On 30 January, Finland's health officials estimated that up to 24 people may have been exposed to the virus.[13] By 5 February, three of the potentially exposed individuals were known to have left the country, and fourteen of the remaining 21 had been placed in quarantine and were expected to be released over the following weekend.[12]

On 26 February, Finland's health officials confirmed the second case, a Finnish woman, who made a trip to Milan and was back in Finland on 22 February, tested positive at the Helsinki University Central Hospital.[14]

On 28 February, a Finnish woman who had travelled to Northern Italy, tested positive by the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District and was advised to remain in home isolation.[15][16]

On 1 March, three new cases—associates of the woman diagnosed with the virus on 28 February—were confirmed in the Helsinki region. They were instructed to remain in isolation at home. This brought the total number of infections diagnosed in Finland to five.[17][18] Later that day, 130 people, including students at Helsinki University’s Viikki teacher training school, were placed in quarantine after having been in close contact with one of the diagnosed.[19]

On 5 March, five new cases were confirmed: three in Uusimaa, one in Pirkanmaa and one in Tavastia Proper. One of the cases in Uusimaa, a working age woman, is associated with the earlier cases in the Helsinki region. The other cases, two working age men, have gotten the virus from northern Italy. All of the patients are in good health and have been advised to stay at home. The case in Tavastia Proper is a child of a Hämeenlinna family that recently visited northern Italy. The family has been in voluntary home quarantine after the trip and nobody else is known to have been in close contact with the patient. The case in Pirkanmaa, a 44-year-old woman is also in home quarantine and in good health. Three people have been in close contact with her. This brought the total number of confirmed cases in Finland to twelve.[20]

On 6 March, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), announced that four new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country, bringing the total number of infections to 19.[21]

On 8 March, THL confirmed four new cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections to 23.[22]

On 9 March, 10 more cases were reported, of which 3 in Helsinki and 7 in other regions, increasing the number of infections to 33.[23]

On 11 March, 19 new cases were reported, including 10 in Uusimaa region, three in Pirkanmaa, one in Central Finland, one in Tavastia Proper in Forssa, one in South Karelia, one in South Ostrobothnia and one in Southwest Finland.[24]

On 12 March, 50 new cases were reported. An employee at the Helsinki-Uusimaa Hospital district (HUS) has tested positive for novel coronavirus.[25]

On 13 March, according to THL, Finland became close to the epidemic threshold as the total confirmed cases increased to 156.[26] Several regions in Finland start to limit laboratory testing of suspected coronavirus cases based on importance criteria.[27] THL instructs the public not to contact health care providers and stay at home for mild symptoms.[28]

On 15 March, The Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS) decided people returning to Finland from trips abroad will not necessarily be tested for novel coronavirus.[29]

On 16 March, the Finnish Government, jointly with the President of Finland, declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19.[30] 272 laboratory-confirmed cases caused by COVID-19 had been diagnosed in Finland by 16 March 2020 at 2 pm.[31] The head of THL, Markku Tervahauta, told MTV3 that the actual number of COVID-19 cases might be 20—30 times higher than what had been confirmed by testing, due to the fact that testing was limited to risk groups, the severely ill, and healthcare workers.[32]

On 16 March, the Government also announced they had decided to take the following measures by issuing a decree on implementing the Emergency Powers Act. The measures will be in place until 13 April, after approval by the Parliament of Finland:[33][34][35]

  • All schools will be closed, not including early education.
  • Most government-run public facilities (theatres, libraries, museums etc.) will be shut down.
  • Critical personnel will be exempted from the Working Hours Act and Annual Holidays Act, both in the private and public sector.
  • At most 10 people can participate in a public meeting, and people over the age of 70 should avoid human contact if possible.
  • Outsiders are forbidden from entering healthcare facilities and hospitals, excluding relatives of critically ill people and children.
  • The capacity of social and healthcare will be increased in the private and public sector, while less critical activity will be decreased.
  • Preparations for the shutdown of borders will start, and citizens or permanent residents returning to Finland will be placed under a 2-week quarantine.

THL considers the figure given by the Finnish Infectious Diseases Register as the official figure, and on 19 March, 304 of the confirmed cases had been reported to the register.[36][31] The following day, approximately 450 cases had been confirmed in the country.[37] The highest number of cases have been identified in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district in southern Finland.

One of the border checkpoints at regional road 167 in Myrskylä, one day after Parliament voted to close the borders of Uusimaa region.

The first death, an elderly individual who lived in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district, who had died a day earlier, was reported on 21 March.[38]

On 23 March, it was reported that former president Martti Ahtisaari had contracted the disease. His wife the former first lady, Eeva Ahtisaari, was confirmed to have the disease on Saturday 21 March.[39]

On 27 March the Parliament voted unanimously to close the borders of the Uusimaa region, which has the most confirmed cases, in hopes of slowing down the epidemic in the rest of the country. The restriction came into force the following midnight. Uusimaa has 1.7 million inhabitants, nearly one third of Finland's total population, and contains the capital city Helsinki. Travel to and from Uusimaa is prohibited without a valid reason and several hundred police officers are enforcing the restriction with the assistance of the Finnish Defence Forces.[40]

Response by sector

Government response

Prime Minister Sanna Marin, alongside other representatives of the Finnish Government, declared a state of emergency in the nation on 16 March 2020.

On 16 March, the Finnish Government, in cooperation with the President of Finland, declared a state of emergency in the country. A list of measures intended to slow down the spreading of the virus and to protect at-risk groups were implemented in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act (1552/2011), the Communicable Diseases Act (1227/2016), and other legislation. The measures include the closing of schools (excluding early education) and most government-run public facilities, limiting public gatherings, and closing the country's borders. They will be in place until 13 April.[41]

On 20 March, the government announced a €15 billion support package to aid businesses and individuals suffering from the economic slowdown resulting from the virus. This was a €10 billion increase to a previous support package, announced 16 March. Among the presented changes was a 2.6% decrease in employee pension payments until the end of 2020.[42]

On 25 March, the government decided to restrict movement between the Uusimaa region and the rest of Finland.[43][44] However, people can move between regions if their job requires them to or if their relative has died. The proposal also does not affect cargo or freight transportation. The changes would be in place until 19 April.[45]

Consumer response

Following the WHO declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, Finnish shops temporarily ran out of toilet paper.

Similar to other countries, the emergence of the virus has increased sales and stockpiling of daily goods, such as groceries and hygiene products. Fears of quarantine and potential shortages has lead to panic buying, particularly of canned goods, hand sanitiser, and toilet paper.[46] On 15 March 2020, the Central Finnish Cooperative Society (S-Group subsidiary) reported an estimated two to three times as many visitors as usual.[47] Kesko reported similar increases.[47] The practice of self-isolation has also increased demand for online grocers.[47]

Number of confirmed cases by hospital districts

Below is the breakdown of confirmed cases in all 21 hospital districts of Finland.[3]

Hospital district Number of
confirmed cases
Total 1418
Uusimaa Helsinki and Uusimaa 836
District undisclosed 164
Pirkanmaa Pirkanmaa 97
Southwest Finland Southwest Finland 52
Central Finland Central Finland 46
North Ostrobothnia North Ostrobothnia 43
Päijät-Häme Päijänne Tavastia 28
Satakunta Satakunta 22
Kanta-Häme Tavastia Proper 18
Ostrobothnia Ostrobothnia (Vaasa) 17
Lapland Lapland 19
South Karelia South Karelia 9
Etelä-Savo Southern Savonia 14
North Karelia North Karelia 9
South Ostrobothnia South Ostrobothnia 7
North Savonia Northern Savonia 12
Central Ostrobothnia Central Ostrobothnia 5
Kymenlaakso Kymenlaakso 7
Kainuu Kainuu 4
Åland Islands Åland Islands 2
Southwest Lapland 5
Eastern Savo 2


  1. ^ The sources state the first case left for her trip from Wuhan five days before the diagnosis, but no exact date of her arrival in Finland is given, placing the arrival of the virus in Finland somewhere between 23 January and 28 January.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c "Kiinalainen matkailija tuotu eristykseen Lapin keskussairaalaan koronavirusepäilyn vuoksi". Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Finland's first coronavirus case confirmed in Lapland". Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e The figures are retrieved from this presentation which is based on the following open data (which, in turn, is published by Helsingin Sanomat):
  4. ^ "Covid-19 - Situazione nel mondo". (in Italian). Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Finland issues China travel advisory over coronavirus concerns". Yle News. 27 January 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Finnair suspends five weekly routes to China due to coronavirus". Yle News. 28 January 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  7. ^ "Kaikkia koronavirusepäilyjä ei enää testata – hyväkuntoinen voi pysytellä kotona". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  8. ^ "Tilannekatsaus koronaviruksesta" (in Finnish). Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  9. ^ Haven, Anu (March 2020). "Serological and molecular findings during SARS-CoV-2 infection: the first case study in Finland, January to February 2020". Eurosurveillance. 25(11). PMC 7096774 – via PMC.
  10. ^ "Nuori kiinalaisturisti eristetty Lapin keskussairaalassa koronavirusepäilyn vuoksi". Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Suomen ensimmäinen koronavirustartunta varmistui". Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Finland's first coronavirus patient released from hospital symptom-free". Yle News. 5 February 2020. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Up to 24 people in Finland possibly exposed to coronavirus symptom-free". Yle News. 30 January 2020. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Woman in Helsinki Tests Positive for Novel Coronavirus". Yle News. 26 February 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  15. ^ "New coronavirus infection confirmed in Helsinki". Yle Uutiset.
  16. ^ "New coronavirus infection confirmed in Helsinki". Yle Uutiset. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Two new coronavirus cases confirmed in southern Finland". Yle Uutiset. 1 March 2020. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  18. ^ Hämäläinen, Veli-Pekka; Näveri, Anna (1 March 2020). "Uudellamaalla 130 ihmistä joutuu karanteeniin – kolme uutta koronavirustartuntaa". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  19. ^ "130 in Helsinki face quarantine following exposure to coronavirus". Yle Uutiset. 1 March 2020. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Kolme uutta tartuntaa Uudellamaalla, yksi Pirkanmaalla ja yksi Kanta-Hämeessä". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). 5 March 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Finland's coronavirus tally rises to 19 confirmed cases". Yle News. 7 March 2020. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Coronavirus shutters school near Tampere". Yle News. 8 March 2020. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  23. ^ "Keski-Suomessa todettu kolme uutta koronatartuntaa, Suomessa vahvistettu tänään jo kymmenen tapausta – IS seuraa". Ilta-Sanomat. 6 March 2020. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  24. ^ "Ainakin 19 uutta koronavirustartuntaa todettu Suomessa". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Helsinki healthcare worker diagnosed with coronavirus". Yle new. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  26. ^ "Coronavirus latest: THL: Finland close to epidemic threshold, 156 cases confirmed". Yle Uutiset. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  27. ^ "Kaikkia koronavirusepäilyjä ei enää testata – hyväkuntoinen voi pysytellä kotona". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  28. ^ "Sairasta lievät oireet kotona - terveydenhuolto auttaa vakavista oireista kärsiviä". Finnish institute for health and welfare (in Finnish). Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  29. ^ "Coronavirus latest: HUS: Coronavirus testing to focus only on health professionals". Yle Uutiset. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  30. ^ "Finland closes schools, declares state of emergency over coronavirus". Yle Uutiset. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  31. ^ a b "Uusimmat tiedot koronaviruksesta: Hallitus kertoo lisätoimista klo 16 jälkeen, Suomessa 272 varmennettua tartuntaa, sairastuneita todennäköisesti 20–30 kertaa enemmän". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  32. ^ "THL:n pääjohtaja Markku Tervahauta Ylellä: Suomessa voi olla todellisuudessa 20-30 kertaa enemmän koronaviruksen saaneita". MTV3 (in Finnish). Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  33. ^ Muhonen, Teemu; Nalbantoglu, Minna (16 March 2020). "Tässä ovat kaikki hallituksen poikkeukselliset toimet koronaviruksen hillitsemiseksi, vaikuttavat lähes jokaisen kansalaisen arkeen – tiedotustilaisuus katsottavissa kokonaisuudessaan". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  34. ^ Karhuvaara, Veera (16 March 2020). "Hallituksen kovat koronatoimet – lue koko lista sanasta sanaan". Ilta-Sanomat (in Finnish). Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  35. ^ "Finland closes schools, declares state of emergency over coronavirus". Yle. 16 March 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  36. ^ "Prime Minister Marin: Children and young people shouldn't spend time In groups". HS. 19 March 2020. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  37. ^ "Tilannekatsaus koronaviruksesta". Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  38. ^ "THL confirms first Coronavirus death in Finland". 21 March 2020. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  39. ^ Uusitalo, Kaisa (24 March 2020). "Presidentti Martti Ahtisaarella on todettu koronavirustartunta". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  40. ^ "Uusimaa closes borders after late-night vote in parliament". Yle Uutiset. 28 March 2020. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  41. ^ "Decrees concerning the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act to Parliament". Finnish Government. 17 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  42. ^ "Katso lista kaikista työntekijöille ja yrityksille luvatuista aputoimista – hallitus lupaa huiman paketin Suomen talouden pelastamiseksi koronalta". Yle (in Finnish). 20 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  43. ^ "Finland shuts down Uusimaa to fight coronavirus". Yle News. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  44. ^ "Movement restrictions to Uusimaa - the Government decided on further measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus epidemic". Government of Finland. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  45. ^ "Uusimmat tiedot koronaviruksesta: hallitus esittää matkustuskieltoa Uudenmaan ja muun Suomen välille – ravintoloiden sulkemista hiotaan vielä". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). 25 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  46. ^ "Friday's papers: Marin meeting, stockpilers clear shelves, football stars disappointed". Yle. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  47. ^ a b c "Food hoarding in Finland moves online". Yle. 15 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.

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