Objectives: The aim was to characterise age-and sex-specific severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus disease-2 (SARS-CoV-2) RT-PCR sampling frequency and positivity rate in Greater Helsinki area in Finland during February & ndash;June 2020. We also describe the laboratory capacity building for these diagnostics.

Methods: Laboratory registry data for altogether 80,791 specimens from 70,517 individuals was analysed. The data included the date of sampling, sex, age and the SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test result on specimens collected between 1 February and 15 June 2020.

Results: Altogether, 4057/80,791 (5.0%) of the specimens were positive and 3915/70,517 (5.6%) of the individuals were found positive. In all, 37% of specimens were from male and 67% from female subjects. While the number of positive cases was similar in male and female subjects, the positivity rate was significantly higher in male subjects: 7.5% of male and 4.4% of female subjects tested positive. The highest incidence/100,000 was observed in those aged >80 years. The proportion of young adults in positive cases increased in late May 2020. Large dips in testing frequency were observed during every weekend and also during public holidays.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that men pursue SARS-CoV-2 testing less frequently than women. Consequently, a subset of coronavirus disease-2019 infections in men may have gone undetected. People sought testing less frequently on weekends and public holidays, and this may also lead to missing of positive cases. The proportion of young adults in positive cases increased towards the end of the study period, which may suggest their returning back to social behaviour with an increased risk of infection.

(c) 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of International Society for Infectious Diseases. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-ncnd/4.0/).

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 3111 Biomedicine
  • COVID-19
  • Nucleic acid amplification
  • Real-time RT-PCR
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveillance
  • COVID-19
  • Real-time RT-PCR
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveillance

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