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Wednesday's papers: Suspected coronavirus case, big business deal, rural babies

Morning papers report that another Chinese tourist in Lapland is in hospital being tested for the coronavirus.

raskaana oleva nainen.
Finland's highest birth rates are to be found in rural areas, according to the newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus. Image: Antti Eintola / Yle
Yle News

Most of the nation's papers, including the newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat report that a Chinese tourist visiting Ivalo in Finnish Lapland has been admitted to Lapland Central Hospital for observation while being tested for the deadly new strain of coronavirus.

The patient first visited a health centre in Ivalo before being transferred to hospital in Rovaniemi on Tuesday.

Ilta-Sanomat quotes hospital officials as saying that the patient is in isolation and samples taken are being sent to Helsinki for analysis.

Markku Broas, an infectious diseases physician at Lapland Central Hospital told the paper that the isolation and testing are precautionary measures being taken for anyone who has been in Wuhan, China during the past two weeks and is showing signs of fever and respiratory infection.

According to Broas, this patient had left the Wuhan area five days before becoming ill.

Last week, two tourists visiting Finland from Wuhan, who were also in Ivalo, were hospitalized for flu-like symptoms and tested. Neither was found to be carrying the coronavirus.

The Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet reports on plans by the EU to evacuate hundreds of citizens from China.

The first flight will carry about 250 French citizens. More than 100 other EU citizens are to travel on the second flight.

Hufvudstadsbladet reports that as of Tuesday evening, Finland's Foreign Ministry was unable to say whether or not any Finnish citizens are being evacuated on the EU flights.

On Tuesday, Finnair announced it is temporarily suspending routes to Nanjing and Beijing Daxing until the end of March. The company will continue flying to Shanghai, Beijing Capital, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

al-Hol camp talks

Turku's Turun Sanomat expects that the situation of Finnish nationals being held in the al-Hol detention camp in the Kurdish-controlled region of Syria will be under discussion in Helsinki on Wednesday when a representative of northeast Syria's Kurdish-dominated administration beings a visit to Helsinki.

Informally known as the "foreign minister" of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, Abdulkarim Omar will be meeting for talks with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and other Finnish officials during a two-day visit to Finland.

Turun Sanomat writes that according to advance information the topic of conditions in the al-Hol camp will come up in discussions between Omar and civil service representatives.

Finland repatriated two orphaned children with Finnish citizenship from al-Hol late last year. There are thought to be 11 adults and around 30 children in the camp who are Finnish nationals.

Biggest deal ever

The daily Helsingin Sanomat reports on what could be Finland's biggest single business deal ever.

It reports that the Finnish Kone Corporation, primarily known as a manufacturer of lifts and escalators is about to spend 17 billion euros to buy the lifts business of the German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp.

Kone has confirmed it has submitted a non-binding offer but has not directly confirmed Helsingin Sanomat's estimate of the sum involved, although it stated it is "close to the value circulating in the media".

The paper reports that the bid is being made jointly with CVC Capital Partners, so it is still uncertain how the investment would be divided.

If the deal goes through for the sum reported, it will be the biggest in Finnish business history and make Kone the world's biggest lift manufacturer. To date, the largest has been Nokia's buyout of Alcatel-Lucent in 2015 for close to 16 billion euros.

Where are the babies?

Out in the countryside, according to the farmers' union paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus.

According to a report in Wednesday's edition, there are only nine municipalities in Finland where birth rates are high enough to maintain current population levels - and they are all in rural areas.

As the paper points out, last year births in Finland were at an all-time low. It calculates that given an average lifespan of 80 years, the birth rate would have to be 12.5 per one thousand inhabitants to keep the population at current levels.

The national rate is currently 9.2, according to preliminary figures from Statistics Finland.

There are nine localities in the country that meet or exceed that level, all small municipalities along the west coast, in Ostobothnia and in the Åland Islands.

At the other end of the scale are Luhanka in the Central Finland region and Kökar in the Åland Islands were not a single child was born last year.

The highest birth rate in Finland last year was recorded in the municipality of Luoto, on the northwest coast, which Maaseudun Tulevaisuus points out is home to a large community of Laestadian Lutherans who are known for raising big families.

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