Fri, 06 Aug 2021

HELSINKI, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Finland on Thursday launched a mass testing of asymptomatic members of the population for COVID-19 in the southwestern city of Turku, the national broadcaster Yle reported.

The campaign -- the country's first -- was organized jointly by the municipal authorities of Turku and the Hospital District of Southwest Finland (VSSHP) in Turku's Varissuo district.

Varissuo, with a population of some 9,000, has been the most affected district by COVID-19 in the city.

The rapid antigen tests used during the campaign were donated by the European Union's (EU) Emergency Support Instrument.

The tests are conducted without the need for an appointment or referral. The tests provide results in 15-30 minutes, Yle said, adding that the aim is to reduce the number of infections in the area and quickly detect possible asymptomatic COVID-19 infections.

"We encourage everyone living in Varissuo to apply for a rapid test on testing days," Jutta Peltoniemi, infectious diseases doctor at Turku's Welfare Department, was quoted by Yle as saying.

"However, we still have to re-confirm the positive results of the rapid tests in our laboratory with a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test," Tytti Vuorinen, chief physician at Turku University Hospital (TYKS), was quoted as saying.

According to Vuorinen, the rapid tests are reliable but the PCR tests are even more reliable. In asymptomatic cases, the reliability of rapid tests is estimated at 70 percent and in symptomatic ones at 70-80 percent.

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, as of Thursday afternoon, Finland had confirmed 88,078 COVID-19 infections, of which 280 were new. The death toll reached 919, an increase of one over the previous day. Over 32 percent of the country's population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Meanwhile, 280 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 96 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to the latest information released by the World Health Organization.

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