Coronavirus latest: 227 new cases, mask recommendations issued for Pirkanmaa college students, Vaasa steps up restrictions | Yle Uutiset

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Marianne Hietamäki ja Minna Panula valmistautuvat koronavirusnäyttteen ottoon.
Healthcare workers Marianne Hietamäki and Minna Panula at a coronavirus testing site.

Image: Päivi Rautanen / Yle

  • 10,929 lab-confirmed infections as of Tuesday 6.10 (up by 227 since Monday)
  • 346 deaths linked to coronavirus as of Monday 5.10 (up by 1 since 2.10)
  • 28 people in hospital, 8 of whom in intensive care as of Monday 5.10
  • Hospital districts report on deaths and hospitalised patients on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

6.10 16:55 Marin promises action as Helsinki mayor calls for more mask usage

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has promised new measures aimed at tackling the rising rate of coronavirus infections.

Meanwhile Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori announced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that the capital region had formed a coordination group to manage the crisis, with an immediate call for more people to use masks in the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa.

Read more on this story here.

6.10 16:12 Pirkanmaa recommends masks for university, college students

The coronavirus situation in the region of Pirkanmaa has deteriorated, particularly among young adults, prompting local authorities to issue a face mask recommendation for university and college students.

The largest proportion of new coronavirus infections in recent weeks was seen among individuals 20-29 years old. The region’s pandemic working group said that many of the infection chains were linked to student events.

Infection chains from outside the region came from Lapland, while others came from nightclubs and private parties, according to the group.

The region still has an infection rate below the national average but infections are accelerating, according to Jaana Syrjänen, the chief infectious disease physician at Tampere University Hospital (Tays), who noted that only 10 percent of current case infection sources remain unknown.

“Last week, 40 new cases were detected. Fifteen of those (individuals) had already self quarantined,” Syrjänen said. As many as 17 new coronavirus infections were recorded in Pirkanmaa on Monday, brining the regional total to 464 cases.

6.10 13:08 Covid causing children’s check-up delays

The coronavirus crisis, and a recent uptick in cases, is creating a backlog for children’s and new parents’ appointments to see school doctors and child health nurses in some municipalities, with some appointments being cancelled altogether.

Read more on this story here.

6.10 12:25 Finland records 227 new infections

Finland has now recorded 10,929 cases of Covid-19, an increase of 227 on Monday, reports THL.

Over the last 14 days Finland has seen 876 more new cases than it did in the preceding two weeks.

THL said the larger number of infections on Tuesday was in part due to reporting timescales.

6.10 12:01 Unions not keen on Covid-related pay cuts

Trade unions have reacted negatively to a suggestion that service sector pay rises might be cancelled. Unions say some haggling may be possible, but any broad, sector-wide renogotiation is not going to happen.

Our story is here.

6.10 8:55 Papers report on Trump, Vaasa

Today’s paper review includes news of new restrictions on life in Vaasa, as the epidemic there spreads further.

Local paper Ilkka Pohjalainen reports that the municipality believes the epidemic to be spreading broadly in the community, with more than 90 cases per 100,000 people reported in the last two weeks.

We also include a story with a Finnish view on Donald Trump’s personal battle to fight off a coronavirus infection. Read the paper review here.

5.10 19:34 Tallink Silja aims to cut up to 120 jobs

Ferry firm Tallink Silja is to initiate co-determination talks with employee representatives in an aim to reduce up to 120 ground operations jobs, the firm announced on Monday, adding that the job cuts were due to economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis.

Read more here.

5.10 17:23 THL: Quarantine rules for travellers could be replaced with tests

The THL said visitors who test negative in their home countries and on arrival could spend a week in Finland without quarantine.

According to THL, visitors could take one coronavirus test at the border if they already have a negative test result from the country of origin, which would allow a week’s visit without quarantine requirements.

Read the story here.

5.10 16:17 THL: One new death recorded on Monday

The Institute for Health and Welfare THL reported a new coronavirus-related death on Monday, the first such fatality on record since Friday. Finland’s official Covid death toll stood at 346 on Monday afternoon, according to the institute.

Meanwhile THL said that 28 people were being treated for Covid-19 in hospitals around the country, eight of whom are in intensive care. The new figures reflect an increase of seven hospital patients and four intensive care patients since Friday.

5.10 13:38 Finance Ministry upgrades economic forecast in Covid shadow

The Finnish economy has reached another turning point and is recovering gradually and slowly, the Finance Ministry said in a new economic survey published on Monday.

Despite positive signs of recovery however, there is much uncertainty in the forecast, ministry economists said. According to the outlook, the economy is expected to contract by 4.5 percent this year, instead of the six percent predicted during the summer.

Read more here.

5.10 12:30 164 new Covid-19 cases reported in Finland

Finland reported 164 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total number of infections to 10,702 to date, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL.

The number of new infections reported in the past 14 days is 937 more than in the previous two weeks, the agency said. The incidence rate for the disease is now 27.2 per 100,000 residents over a two-week period.

The THL said there are large variations in the infection rate. For example in Helsinki it is 53.9 per 100,000 residents compared to 7.5 per 100,000 in Northern Ostrobothnia.

5.10 10:28 Crisis takes a toll on nurses

The coronavirus crisis has accelerated nurses’ desire to get out of the field, according to a fresh study by the Finnish Nurses Association (FNA).

According to the survey of more than 2,300 nursing professionals, more than half of respondents said they had thought of changing jobs during the height of the pandemic. Read more about the survey results here.

5.10 9:30 Papers explore how to save in a pandemic

Money matters piques reader interest on Monday morning with daily Helsingin Sanomat featuring a story about a four-person family able to save 600 euros monthly despite the two adults in the family having the ‘regular’ jobs of waitress and truck driver and earning a combined net salary of 3,500 euros per month.

Read our full newspaper roundup, which also highlights rising property rental rates in Helsinki, a housing rental market described as pricey by one expert and how coronavirus is creeping back into the midst of the elderly.

4.10 15:08 Stricter rules likely for bars, restaurants in Uusimaa region

Public health officials and local authorities are said to be considering ratcheting up restrictions in southern Finland’s Uusimaa region as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise rapidly.

Lasse Lehtonen, diagnostics director with the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) said that officials are already working on rules for Uusimaa that are more restrictive than directives set to take effect in other parts of the country. Read the full story here.

4.10 13:44 Finland’s Covid incidence rate exceeds 25 per 100k people

The coronavirus incidence rate in Finland has climbed to 25.8 infections per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks. The development puts Finland in the red zone in the traffic light model that the government developed to assess other countries based on the level of risk with regard to the prevalence of the disease.

The number of new infections in Finland during the past two weeks was 869 more than in the preceding two-week period.

4.10 12:20 More than 1,000 to quarantine in Vaasa

The number of lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in the Vaasa hospital district in western Finland has risen sharply, with more than 50 new cases diagnosed over the past three days.

The case count stood at 159 on Sunday as 25 new infections were recorded since Saturday. Apart from a few exceptions, the infections were all diagnosed among students.

Heikki Kaukoranta, head of infectious diseases at the Vaasa hospital district, said he estimated that more than 1,000 people in the region will go into quarantine over the next two days. Meanwhile local health officials said they are hoping to beef up test, trace and quarantine efforts during the week ahead.

4.10 12:05 147 new Covid-19 cases in Finland

Finland reported 147 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. Sunday’s case count brings the total number of infections in Finland to 10,538. The death toll from the disease stood at 345 on Friday, 2 October.

3.10. 18:04 Hundreds possibly exposed to coronavirus in Vaasa

Vaasa Hospital District reported 14 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections, all but one of which have been found in students at the University of Vaasa. Earlier this week, 10 university students reported positive.

On Friday and Saturday, three students of Vaasa University of Applied Sciences also confirmed as positive for Covid-19.

The cluster of student infections was traced to study events that took place in Vaasa between 23-26 September.

Infectious disease doctor Heikki Kaukoranta estimated that this infection chain may have exposed hundreds of people and urged everyone to stay home.

On Saturday, eight new infections reported in the hospital district of South Ostrobothnia were linked to an infection chain that started in Ylläs, a tourist town in Lapland, adding to the 41 infections traced to the same cluster on Friday.

3.10. 13:35 Finland reports 147 new coronavirus infections

Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL reported 147 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the country’s overall total to 10,391. In the past 14 days, 808 more new infections have been reported than in the previous two weeks.

The highest number of total infections has been recorded in the Greater Helsinki region — 3586 in Helsinki, 1192 in Espoo and 1169 in Vantaa.

2.10 15:50 Finnish president wishes Trumps speedy Covid recovery

Like the leaders of many nations around the world, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Friday wished US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump a speedy recovery from Covid-19.

Niinistön Trump-tviitti

Earlier in the day Trump announced that he and his wife had tested positive for Covid-19.

2.10 14:45 Finnish government wins first Covid-era confidence vote

Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s (SDP) government has won a parliamentary confidence vote by 102 votes to 75, with 22 MPs absent.

The vote of confidence was based on an interpellation question tabled by all four opposition parties on the government’s economic and employment policies. This was the first confidence vote of the coronavirus era.

Read more here.

2.10 11:59 Finland reports 141 new cases on Friday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 141 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Friday, bringing the country’s overall total to 10,244.

The THL also reported one further death, bringing Finland’s total to 345.

2.10 9:09 Food queue grows in Tampere

Among other topics, Friday’s press review found that a food queue in Tampere has grown significantly since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. Local paper Aamulehti reports on “astonishing” images of a queue for free food that stretched for up to a kilometre through the city’s streets.

Read about this and more in our examination of Friday’s newspapers.

1.10 17:40 Crisis-era collective agreement in hospitality sector

Some 85,000 employees in tourism, restaurants and recreational services have a new contract that runs through March 2022.

However, due to uncertainty because of pandemic-related restrictions, perhaps the most crucial part of the agreement – wages – will not be negotiated until next year.

More details in this article.

1.10 15:15 Are the measures government announced this week enough?

As Finland grapples with an ‘acceleration stage’ of the coronavirus epidemic, the All Points North podcast looks at pubs and ice hockey crowds and their efforts to limit transmission of Covid-19.

You can listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

With case counts rising, we reported that Finland wants to close pubs early, looked at hockey crowds during the pandemic and asked if we really live in ‘Finntopia’.
Audio: Yle

1.10 13:47 Family shelters report corona-related surge in demand for services

The number of people seeking shelter from fractured homes has increased by more than one-third during the past five years, according to the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters.

The Federation added that the coronavirus epidemic has increased appeals for assistance and noted that the users of its chat service had increased by a factor of 10 since last year.

Read the full story here.

1.10 13:29 Up to 200 exposed at Savonlinna college

Some 150–200 people have been exposed to the coronavirus at Itä-Karjalan kansanopisto, a community college in Punkaharju, Savonlinna. The Eastern Savo healthcare district is testing all those potentially exposed and will provide results on Friday.

The adult education centre has been closed since Wednesday, with classes cancelled and residents told not to leave the campus. So far one person has tested positive.

1.10 12:02 Finland crosses 10,000-infection mark

Finland is in the acceleration phase of the current stage of the coronavirus epidemic and mask recommendations should be observed nationwide, public health officials said on Thursday.

Speaking during a weekly briefing on the state of the epidemic in Finland, Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare’s (THL) infectious diseases head Taneli Puumalainen said that officials recorded 111 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the overall total of lab-confirmed cases to 10,103. The actual number is likely much higher.

Read more here.

1.10 11:03 At least 200 coronavirus infections linked to restaurants and bars

At least 200 of the confirmed coronavirus infections between August and September have been linked to restaurants and bars, Taneli Puumalainen, chief physician at the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare said during Yle’s A-studio television discussion programme on Wednesday evening.

According to the THL expert, nearly 40 infections had been linked to a single bar in Helsinki. Read more here.

1.10 9:30 Daily: Young people oppose corona blaming

Young people have accounted for almost half of the number of lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in Finland in recent weeks, according to latest figures provided by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

However young adults say they are disappointed at being painted as irresponsible partygoers who are spreading coronavirus, according to daily Helsingin Sanomat. Read more about this and other stories in Thursday’s newspaper roundup.

30.9 16:23 Half of recent infections found among younger age group

Latest figures from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) show that almost half of the lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in recent weeks were among people aged between 10 and 29.

Read more on this story here.

30.9 15:41 Finland reports 100 new cases on Wednesday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 100 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the country’s overall total to 9,992.

Finland’s death toll was meanwhile revised down, to 344, while there are currently 19 people being treated in hospital for the virus, four of whom are in intensive care.

30.9 12:35 Defence Forces’ Independence Day parade cancelled

Finland’s annual military parade has been cancelled. This Independence Day the Defence Forces have promised an alternative programme, which will be announced later.

The military said that local events could be organised instead of the national parade, which was to be held in Pori this year.

Those events could include, for example, the hoisting of the Finnish flag, the laying of wreaths, presentation of medals and ceremonies to commemorate soldiers’ promotions to higher ranks.

On Tuesday it was announced that the Independence Day reception, held each 6 December at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, would not be held this year.

30.9 9:28 Restaurants in danger again as restrictions tightened

The big story in Wednesday’s press review was Tuesday night’s announcement by the government that bars and restaurants must close by midnight at the latest.

One firm reacted to the plans by starting layoff talks affecting more than a thousand of its workers, the restaurant union MaRa says thousands of other employees also risk losing their jobs.

Read the review here.

29.9 21:04 Government announces temporary restriction on bars

Bars and restaurants across Finland will be forced to stop serving alcohol by midnight, at the latest, under a new temporary measure announced by the Finnish government on Tuesday evening. Establishments in the Helsinki region, where the coronavirus epidemic is in an ‘accelerated phase’, may face closing times of 10pm.

There is more on this story here.

29.9 18:27 Uusimaa infection rate “getting out of hand”

The coronavirus situation in Uusimaa is “getting out of hand,” according to the Helsinki University Hospital district’s (HUS’s) Director of Diagnostics Lasse Lehtonen.

His statement follows comments made earlier on Tuesday by THL’s Director of Health Security Mika Salminen, that the epidemic is in an “acceleration phase” in the region.

The proportion of samples testing positive for the virus in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area yesterday was almost three times higher, at 1.77 percent, than last week when the rate was about 0.6 percent. Earlier in the autumn, the rate was even lower, at about 0.3 to 0.4 percent of samples per day testing positive.

“Tests taken now reveal infections acquired a week ago. After a while, they [people with positive diagnoses] will come to the hospitals. This is a worrying development. We are returning to spring levels,” Lehtonen said.

Blog continues after photo.

Hengityssuojaimia käyttäviä matkustajia Helsingin Rautatieasemalla 28. syyskuuta 2020.

Masked commuters in Helsinki on 28 September 2020.

Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

29.9 15:55 Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa recommend masks on city services

The cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa have jointly announced a recommendation that people above the age of 15 wear masks when using city services such as libraries, sports facilities, museums and secondary schools.

Read more here.

29.9 14:43 Finland cancels Independence Day ball

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö has announced the cancellation of this year’s Independence Day ball, an annual event which sees up to 2,000 people gather at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.

There is more on this story here.

29.9 14:25 THL: Helsinki region in ‘acceleration phase’

The National Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL’s) Director of Health Security Mika Salminen said that the coronavirus epidemic is in an acceleration phase in the Helsinki University Hospital district (HUS), as the region accounted for about half of the 149 new confirmed cases reported in Finland on Tuesday.

Read more on this story here.

29.9 11:40 Finland reports 149 new cases on Tuesday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 149 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the country’s overall total to 9,743.

29.9 9:09 Crisis hits Uusimaa’s tourism business

The coronavirus crisis has had some serious consequences for tourism in the Uusimaa region, according to the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council.

Swedish daily Hufvudstadsbladet reported that direct losses of tourism income between January and July in the region amounted to 735 million euros. If the domino effect on other related industries is included, the loss amounted to more than one billion euros, the council said.

Read more about this and other stories in Tuesday’s press review.

28.9 15:44 Ski party prompts local outbreak in eastern Finland

About 70 young people were exposed to the coronavirus during a party at a ski resort in Kuopio on 19 September. So far 21 have been diagnosed with Covid-19, health officials said on Monday.

As of Friday, 12 infections had been traced to the festivities. The latest cases have emerged among people who were already under quarantine. There is so far no evidence of onward transmission to others who did not attend the party. Read more on this story here.

28.9 15:39 THL reports 2 new coronavirus-related fatalities

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported two new Covid-caused deaths on Monday, bringing the overall death toll to 345.

THL also reported that 22 people were being treated in the country’s hospitals for coronavirus infections, four of whom in intensive care.

28.9 12:50 500 cases reported through coronavirus tracing app

Finland’s coronavirus tracing app Koronavilkku has proven to be useful in fighting the virus, Aleksi Yrttiaho, THL’s Director of Information Services told Yle on Monday. So far, 500 infections have been reported through the app.

According to Yrttiaho, the application has been used to detect exposures that might have otherwise been hard to trace.

“For example, last week in Vaasa, an infection was first reported on the app, through which 50 people were found and quarantined, Yrttiaho said.

According to Yrttiaho, the benefit of the app is greater in situations when an infected person or a cluster of infections has moved from one area to another — it can help trace wider connections faster.

Koronavilkku has been downloaded almost 2.2 million times since it was launched last month.

28.9 12:15 Finland reports 61 new cases on Monday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 61 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Monday, bringing the country’s overall total to 9,743.

THL is expected to report on hospitalisations and possible deaths later in the day.

28.9 12:03 Restrictions on arrivals from Sweden and Norway now in force

From Monday travellers from most EU countries arriving in Finland are once again required to isolate and asked to take a coronavirus test. Finland reintroduced entry restrictions on travellers arriving from EU countries including Sweden, Estonia, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, and Slovakia starting Monday.

The interior ministry has also posted new self-isolation and testing measures for travellers which will remain in effect from 1 October to 22 November. Read more here.

28.9 09:58 Monday’s papers: Helsinki in ‘spreading phase’

Helsinki and Uusimaa district’s coronavirus situation is moving from an accelerating stage to a spreading phase, Director of Diagnostic services at Helsinki University Hospital Lasse Lehtonen told daily Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Finland is considering how restaurants should be restricted with the worsening coronavirus situation. Papers report that an idea is being put forth similar to the ‘traffic light model’ used for border traffic. Restaurant and bar restrictions would be tightened if the area had moved from an acceleration phase to a spreading phase and would be relaxed if the spread has been curbed.

Read more on this story and the rest of our paper review here.

27.9 12:40 More than 700 new cases in past week

On Sunday the THL reported 105 more lab-confirmed Covid-19 diagnoses since the previous day. That brought the total for the past week to 702 cases, and the overall running tally to 9,682.

In the past two weeks, there have been over 600 more new cases reported than during the preceding fortnight.

The rate of new cases has been rising since August, when people in Finland began returning to schools and workplaces after the summer holidays.

This week the death toll rose to 343, just over six months since the first one was confirmed. As of Friday, there were 19 Covid-19 patients in hospital wards and two in intensive care units.

Health authorities are to update these figures on Monday.

27.9 11:59 Initiative demanding referendum on EU stimulus gains support

A citizens’ initiative calling for a national referendum on last summer’s EU stimulus package has garnered enough signatures to send it to by Parliament. The petition, launched by the youth group of the opposition Finns Party, reached 50,000 signatories late Saturday.

The Finns Party has been sharply critical of the government’s approval of the EU stimulus package in July. The deal is aimed at helping member states’ economies recover from the corona crisis.

Find out more here.

26.9 19:14 President and PM rated best at Covid communications

President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) were ranked as best at providing information about the coronavirus pandemic in a new survey.

The poll was published on Saturday by the Foundation for Municipal Development (Kaks), an independent, non-profit think tank. Details here.

26.9 13:06 Restaurants and clubs may face earlier closing hours

The government plans to reimpose restrictions on restaurant and nightclub opening hours. Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) says ministers will consider a proposal on opening hours in government negotiations on Tuesday.

Yle has learned that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health plans to propose to the cabinet that nightclubs opening hours be shortened throughout the country.

The ministry will also call for detailed regional measures for areas where the epidemic situation is now worsening rapidly.

You can read more here.

25.9 14:38 HUS: Time to take face masks seriously

Officials from the Helsinki University Hospital district (HUS) said on Friday that they would “strongly recommend” that people use face masks as proposed by the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare, THL. They also recommended cancelling or postponing any large private events.

HUS officials said infection sources are known in just 16 percent of cases, meaning Covid can be contracted anywhere. More details at this link.

25.9 13:01 MPs begin wearing masks in Parliament

Members of Finland’s Parliament have started wearing face masks during plenary sessions, after the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, updated their recommendation on the use of masks in public places on Thursday.

Read more on this story here.

25.9 12:03 Finland reports 105 new cases on Friday

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported that 105 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Finland over the past 24 hours on Friday, bringing the country’s overall total to 9,484. The number of deaths remained unchanged at 343.

25.9 11:45 HUS: Expect one-year wait for vaccine

Finland should prepare for the continuation of the coronavirus pandemic for some time to come, as a vaccine will not be available for at least another year, according to the Helsinki University Hospital district’s (HUS) Director of Diagnostics Lasse Lehtonen.

Lehtonen said that HUS will apply for marketing authorisation for a vaccine at the end of this year, but there would still likely be a delay until any vaccine is ready for distribution. Read more here.

25.9 10:41 Finland’s tax revenue down €2bn year-on-year

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has led to Finland’s tax revenues falling for the first time since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

There is more on this story here.

25.9 9:47 Friday’s papers: Regions react to mask recommendations

Newspapers across Finland carry stories on the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL’s) updated mask recommendation, with Jyväskylä-based Keskisuomalainen reporting on a very small number of mask wearers at a local shopping centre in the city, despite an uptick in recent cases.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our paper review, here.

24.9 20:55 Corona dogs begin sniffing at Helsinki Airport

Passengers are now being offered unique Covid-19 checks at Helsinki Airport on a voluntary basis.

Four specially trained dogs, who can detect the virus faster than laboratory tests, have gone on duty at Finland’s biggest airport this week as part of a pilot project.

Read more in our story here.

24.9 17:41 Will more people wear masks now?

This week’s All Points North podcast looked at Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s latest face mask guidelines that expand on a previous recommendation to use masks on public transport. THL is now asking people to use masks in indoor spaces and at public events, particularly where distancing from others may be difficult or impossible.

You can listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player.

Audio: Yle News

24.9 16:30 Travel restrictions reinstated for many countries

The Finnish government has again tightened travel restrictions. On Thursday the cabinet decided to reinstate border controls with Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Germany and Slovakia due to their worsened Covid-19 situations as of next Monday.

As of 28 September, residents of Finland will only be allowed to travel to half a dozen European countries without facing a quarantine on their return.

You can read more here.

24.9 14:07 Nearly all large cities in accelerating phase

As of Thursday, the THL designated nine healthcare districts as being in an accelerated phase, meaning that there are between 10 to 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous two weeks, there are local and regional chains of infection and that the health care system is not strained by patient volumes.

The areas exceeding that level are Helsinki-Uusimaa (HUS), Kanta-Häme, Päijät-Häme, Kymenlaakso, Pirkanmaa, Southwest Finland, South Savo, Central Finland and Central Ostrobothnia. The regions cover a broad swath of southern and central Finland, including all of the country’s largest cities except Oulu. More details in this article.

24.9 12:55 Finland expands mask recommendation

THL announced new recommendations on mask usage on Thursday, as the case count mounts in many regions. Our story on the recommendations is here.

24.9 12:03 Finland reports 91 new cases on Thursday

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported that 91 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Finland over the past 24 hours on Thursday, bringing the country’s overall total to 9,379.

24.9 9:43 New restaurant restrictions may be on horizon

Bars in Finland might face new restrictions as early as next week, reports Ilta-Sanomat, as Finland grapples with ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, daily Helsingin Sanomat wondered why there was a high prevalence of coronavirus infections among hockey players.

Find our whole press review here.

23.9 17:22 Ministry asks for regional reports as escalation fears grow

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has asked regional health authorities across Finland to prepare reports on how they plan to deal with an anticipated increase in infection rates.

Read more on this story here.

23.9 12:08 Finland reports 93 new cases on Wednesday

The Institute for Health and Welfare THL reported on Wednesday that Finland recorded 93 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 9,288.

THL also reported two further deaths linked to the virus on Wednesday, as well as confirming that there are now 22 people being treated in hospital — an increase of three from Monday — with four in intensive care, up by two since the last hospital district reporting day on Monday 21.9.

23.9 9:25 Finland’s Covid hotspots

Parts of Finland have so many Covid cases that travellers would face restrictions if they were a separate country, according to newspaper Iltalehti. The rule is that places with more than 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the preceding two weeks should isolate for a fortnight on arrival in Finland.

That level puts Central Finland in the ‘red’ zone, with 41.9 cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.

Read more about this and other stories in Wednesday’s press review.

22.9 18:00 THL to issue regionally-based face mask guidelines

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is updating its face mask recommendations based on regional infection rates, according to the institute’s health security director, Mika Salminen.

If coronavirus infection rates increase rapidly in a certain part of the country, then mask recommendation guidelines would be broadened in that region, particularly for people in schools, shopping centres and other places, he explained.

Read more about this story here.

22.9 16:30 Finland tightens travel restrictions

Finland has said it will introduce mandatory quarantine rules for arrivals from Estonia and Sweden from next Monday. The move follows a rise in infection rates in the two countries.

Finland’s government has said it will ask people to isolate for two weeks if the country they arrive from has had more than 25 confirmed Covid cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.

Our story is here.

22.9 12:44 IS: Ohisalo says border checks could soon return on Estonian frontier

The government is set to reintroduce border checks on arrivals from Estonia, according to Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green).

Ohisalo told Ilta-Sanomat that Estonia’s rate of Covid-19 infection had exceeded 25 cases per 100,000 residents in the last two weeks.

She said people would still be able to travel to and from work and conduct other daily business.

“Commuting to work in this situation can continue without quarantine recommendations in accordance with the government’s decisions, if there is not a big difference in infection rates between Estonia and Finland,” said Ohisalo.

Ohisalo told IS that a decision would be made on the matter this week. According to IS that means that from next week people arriving in Finland from Estonia will be asked to quarantine, but not if they are going to work.

22.9 12:33 149 new cases reported

THL reports that Finland has recorded 149 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 9,195.

21.9 15:50 HUS may face legal action over €100 million lab contract

Helsinki and Uusima Hospital District (HUS) is being criticised for awarding a giant 100 million euros contract to the private laboratory services company Synlab on Monday without calling for an open tender process. The 10-month-contract involves HUS renting premises and equipment for analysis of coronavirus samples from Synlab in Helsinki.

According to Jukka Hurme, CEO of Vita Laboratories, a competitor of Synlab, HUS initiated a direct procurement without properly examining the ability of other labs to provide the service.

Read the full story here.

21.9 15:47 66 new coronavirus cases and two deaths reported

Finland reported 66 lab-confirmed Covid-19 infections on Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. Monday’s cases bring the running today to 9,046.

Two new deaths have also been reported bringing the total count to 341 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Finland. There are currently 19 people in hospitals, two of whom are in intensive care. THL reports disease-related deaths and hospitalisations three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

21.9 9:38 Papers report on vaccine trials and stockpiles

Online paper Uusi Suomi carries a popular story on Monday morning, reporting that pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer are stockpiling coronavirus vaccines in warehouses while phase three clinical trials are underway. Papers also cover Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lover affair with Sweden and ageism affecting mainly women in the workplace. Read the full newspaper digest here.

20.9 14:30 Is Finland a remote working paradise?

Some say Finland should have moved more quickly to attract location-independent professionals tired of lockdown life. More on this story here.

20.9 12:10 Finland reports 58 new cases; 400 in past week

Finland recorded 58 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), bringing the running total of cases to 8,980.

20.9 11:49 HUS director calls for late-night alcohol sales ban

A director at Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) said recent infection clusters in Finland stemmed from bars, which is why he wants Finland to ban late-night drinks. Find out more here.

19.9 13:40 Cases top 8,900, up by 365 in past week

On Saturday the THL reported 64 new lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the total for the past week to 365. The overall total has risen to more than 8,900 since the first one was confirmed in late January. The number of confirmed cases has risen by 5.3 percent in the past 10 days.

During the same period, the death toll has risen by two to 339. The two deaths were reported on Monday, bringing the tally for the past month to five.

19.9 11:31 Borders with Sweden and Norway re-open after more than 5 months

As of midnight, Finnish authorities lifted restrictions on entry for travel between Finland and Cyprus, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Poland and Sweden and the Vatican.

The change also affects residents of Australia, Canada and Japan who are travelling from their home country to Finland. The same applies to residents of Georgia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Meanwhile restrictions on entry into the country have been re-imposed between Finland and Hungary and Italy.

More details here.

18.9 20:50 Government pledges support for Naantali job losses

Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Friday evening that government is committed to providing financial support to help ease the pain of possible major job losses stemming from planned cutbacks in oil processing in Naantali.

The PM said that her understanding was that the planned closure of the Naantali refinery was in line with Neste’s long-term strategy to transition toward more environmentally-friendly energy solutions.

She noted that in this regard, the government could draw down on hundreds of millions of euros to be allocated to Finland from the EU’s Just Transition Fund to help Naantali pivot toward a greener economy. Read more about this story here.

18.9 19:50 Wärtsilä begins talks to extend furloughs

Finnish power systems firm Wärtsilä announced on Friday that it was launching negotiations to extend furloughs for workers temporarily laid off earlier this year.

The talks will apply to all subsidiaries, locations and employee groups in Finland. In April this year, Wärtsilä decided to furlough more than 3,000 employees. Some of the furloughs were implemented by way of converting full-time jobs to part-time positions. Read more here.

18.9 18:55 Data confirm 87% decline in inbound travel in Q2

Overseas travel to Finland shrank by a significant 87 percent between April and June compared to the same period one year ago, according to new data from Statistics Finland. At the same time travel from Finland abroad collapsed by 93 percent during the second quarter against last year, the agency noted.

The decline in the value of tourism exports and imports in 2020 compared to 2019 further highlighted the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the Finnish tourism industry and the wider economy. Read the full story here.

18.9 12:55 Researcher casts doubt on tourist testing scheme

According to risk management modelling by Miika Linna, Docent of Health Economics at Aalto University, there are no solid grounds for the double coronavirus testing of travellers from high-risk countries as proposed by the Finnish government.

Read the story here.

18.9 12:34 Finland reports 59 new cases

Finland reported 59 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, bringing the running total of cases to 8,858.

18.9 10:55 More industrial plant closures on the way, minister says

Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Cen) told Yle Friday morning that he fears there will be more industrial plant closures seen in the country.

“Unfortunately, it will happen in some localities. I can anticipate the next place, but I will not say [where],” Lintilä said in response to the question of whether there will be new plant closures like the announced shutdown of a paper mill in Jämsä and the expected closure of an oil refinery in Naantali.

Lintilä also commented on tourism in Lapland. Read the whole article here.

18.9 9:27 Will Finns start traveling again?

Travel restrictions imposed by the Finnish government are being eased as of Saturday, and the nation’s largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, writes that it is not impossible that many Finns will rush to travel abroad.

Read Friday morning’s press review for more on this and other stories.

17.9 20:58 Is there too much Covid in the news?

This week’s All Points North podcast looked at whether coronavirus reporting might be affecting people negatively. We also discussed the government budget announced this week, which includes big money for coronavirus testing and to support municipalities after their incomes were slashed during the crisis.

You can listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player.

Audio: Yle News

17.9 11:37 University moves to distance learning after four confirmed cases

Up to 500 students at the University of Turku’s Faculty of Medicine will move to distance learning until the end of September after four students were diagnosed with coronavirus.

Read more on this story here.

17.9 9:24 Thursday’s papers: Reaction to budget plans

Finland’s press on Thursday morning has looked into the government’s 2021 draft budget and how it aims to deal with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our Thursday morning paper review, here.

16.9 17:37 Finland unveils corona-era budget

The Finnish government on Wednesday unveiled a spending package for 2021 that it would boost employment, advance climate targets and increase spending to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced a deal on Finland’s state budget for 2021 on Wednesday after lengthy negotiations between different sections of her five-party coalition government.

“This budget has been prepared in the midst of an exceptionally grave health and economic crisis, and next year still holds a great deal of uncertainty. The budget as a whole aims to be a stimulus,” Marin said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. Read here for more details about the budget proposal.

16.9 15:40 Young people seek help for corona-based anxiety

The coronavirus crisis continues to adversely affect the wellbeing of children and young people, according to mental health advocacy organisations. However the youth-based online mental health discussion platform–set up by Mental Health Finland and the Finnish Red Cross–called Sekasin-chat, has grown in popularity during this rather unusual year. Read more here.

16.9 15:05 25 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported 25 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, bringing the running total of cases to 8,750.

The agency said that 14 patients were receiving hospital treatment for the disease, three of them in intensive care. The number of deaths stands at 339.

16.9 14:05 Two million downloads for Koronavilkku app

Nearly two-fifths of Finland has now downloaded the country’s version of a coronavirus contact-tracing app.

The app launched two weeks ago and has now been downloaded some two million times. It is designed to alert users when they may have been exposed to coronavirus.

THL said in a statement that the app is a useful aid to contact-tracing but does not replace other measures like hand-washing and physical distancing.

The app is available in Finnish and Swedish, but not yet English.

16.9 9:12 Testing ramps up

Finland has carried out more than 800,000 coronavirus tests since the epidemic hit the country, according to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Testing has ramped up during that time and the one million test mark will be reached by the end of the month, the paper reports.

Find Wednesday’s press review for more on this and other stories here.

For previews updates, click here.

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