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Finland suggests increase in Covid cases is linked to fans returning from St. Petersburg following Euro 2020

Finland suggests increase in Covid cases is linked to fans returning from St. Petersburg following Euro 2020
Finland's Institute for Health and Welfare has suggested that the county's recent uptick in Covid cases is down to football fans from returning from games in St. Petersburg throughout the ongoing European Championships.

The Scandinavian country's confirmed Covid-19 cases have been dropping since mid-March since it reported a seven-day average of 731 on March 20, dropping to a weekly average of 71 cases just 10 days.

However, Finnish epidemiologists have noted a sharp uptick in cases over the past week and a half - with the blame being centered around fans returning from Russia over that time.

Russia itself has been grappling with a new wave of Covid cases, centered around Moscow and St. Petersburg. 

Finland played two matches in the northern Russian city at Euro 2020: against Russia on June 16 and Belgium five days later. 

According to local media, around 300 Finnish fans have tested positive for Covid-19 since their return, per statistics from the Institute for Health and Welfare, with more than 750 people subsequently forced into quarantine. 

Many of the cases are thought to be linked to the Delta variant (which was previously referred to as the Indian variant), a strain of the virus which is currently being found in Russia. 

"The Delta variant spreads more easily and it will probably take over other virus strains, as it did in Britain," virology professor Ilkka Julkunen noted.

Julkunen added that Finnish leaders must act quickly to prevent further spread and compelled fans who travelled to regions within Euroope which could be described as Covid 'hot spots' to seek a test, as well as ensure that they are practicing social distancing and wearing facemasks when in public.

"Those figures will increase even more, because not all infections have been traced in the municipalities yet," added Markku Makijarvi, Chief Medical Officer of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District, amid grave concerns about the deterioration of Finland's Covid-19 status.

The situation, they say, is complicated by the fact that travel manifestos to Russia were often incomplete, making contact tracing a difficult task.

However, Finland has an impressive vaccination record to date - with more than 60% of the country's 16+ population receiving at least one dose of a vaccine so far.

"Two doses of the vaccine also provides quite good immune protection against the Delta variant," Julkunen added.

"Your summer holidays don't need to be cancelled, but we need to act sensibly and responsibly despite the fact it's summer and vacation time."

Also on rt.com Russia records highest official Covid-19 death toll since start of pandemic, as nation fights sharp rise in cases of Delta variant

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, meanwhile, also announced on Tuesday that they have noted an increase in Covid-19 cases thought to be due to fans travelling to the European Championships. 

"We were very explicit in saying to fans who didn't have tickets for [the game against England at] Wembley not to travel," Sturgeon said.

"We can't physically stop every person travelling and significant numbers of people did travel, and I think there is an association between that and some of the cases we've seen in recent days. 

"Public Health Scotland is doing more of an analysis on this and we'll publish some more detail on that in the coming days."

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