Around a quarter of Finland’s total coronavirus cases have been detected in people who are not native Finnish speakers, according to the National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL).
Natalia Skogberg, a Research Manager at the THL, explained that several factors could explain why non-Finnish speakers had such high rates of the Wuhan coronavirus compared to the native-speaking population.
“They may come from a lower socioeconomic background, or be in a profession where working from home is not possible. They may also have large family sizes and live in more cramped housing, making it more difficult to prevent chains of infection,” Skogberg told broadcaster YLE.
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Groups with the highest rates of infections have been recorded among those speaking languages such as Russian, Somali, Arabic, and Kurdish as their native tongue.
A lack of communication could also be to blame for the higher rates of infection. Recently, the city of Helsinki hired at least ten multilingual coronavirus advisors to help cope with the issue, with advisors speaking various languages including Somali, English, Arabic, and French.
Sami Ouarab, who mans a coronavirus information counter in a Helsinki shopping centre, distributes information in several languages. He said those from migrant backgrounds might not understand how severe coronavirus is.
Finland is not the only country to see higher infection rates among migrants who primarily speak foreign languages. In Sweden, it was revealed earlier this year that the Somali community in the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby had been hard hit by the virus, as well.
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In March, Swedish media confirmed that six of the 15 confirmed deaths from the virus in the area were members of the Somali community and some speculated the language barrier had played a role in the higher infection rates.
Italy, likewise, has reported high cases of coronavirus among migrants and foreigners, with Italian Minister for Regional Affairs Francesco Boccia inadvertently revealing that as many as a quarter of cases in August were foreigners.