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Finland sees spike in infections after soccer fans return from Russia

The Finnish national team suffered two defeats in St. Petersburg this month and nearly 100 infections have since been recorded at two border crossings, mostly among returning fans, authorities said.

By: Reuters | Helsinki |
June 24, 2021 10:32:15 pm
Finland players applaud the fans after a match in Euro 2020. (Reuters)

Finnish football fans returning from Russia after Euro 2020 matches have caused a spike in their country’s daily coronavirus cases, Finnish health authorities said on Thursday.

The Finnish national team suffered two defeats in St. Petersburg this month and nearly 100 infections have since been recorded at two border crossings, mostly among returning fans, authorities said.

The total of daily new cases has since risen from around 50 to over 100, according to official data.

“These are people who have been at the games. Clearly it has spread surprisingly well there, considering that Finns have mostly interacted with each other but contracted the virus in just a few days,” Risto Pietikainen, chief physician for the hospital district covering the main crossing point, told Reuters.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said almost 100 infections had been diagnosed among Finns who had travelled to St. Petersburg and the number was likely to grow.

Mika Salminen, head of security at the health institute, said a majority of those who contracted COVID in St. Petersburg were football fans.

Most infections were found in people on 15 buses that left the city for Finland on June 22.

Authorities expect more people to test positive in the coming days because of the long incubation period of the virus and because they were not able to test all arriving fans before the main crossing point closed on Tuesday evening.

Finland however remains among the countries least affected by the pandemic. The nation of 5.5 million people has recorded 969 deaths and has 33 people hospitalized due to COVID-19.

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