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Thursday’s papers: Reduced infection rate, mass mask-wearing, and a Posti bonus

The press on Thursday looks at the effect of Finland’s anti-coronavirus measures, and a controversial payment to a postal boss.

A French baker is one of many people all over the world wearing a mask to try and fight coronavirus. Image: Julien de Rosa / EPA

Papers on Thursday are again dominated by coronavirus as they have been in recent weeks. Finland’s response is in the spotlight, with Iltalehti reporting (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that an expert from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reckons the infection rate in Finland is now below R1.

The ‘R0’ level explains how fast the disease is spreading, by indicating the average number of people infected by each infected patient.

Tuija Leino tells IL that there is a time lag in the daily coronavirus numbers, which have declined in Finland since Saturday.

“If just the number of cases decline, the change might have happened in the last week,” IL quotes Leino as saying. “If hospitalisations decrease, the infections declined last week. If new intensive care admissions start to reduce, those infections happened two weeks ago.”

At the moment, intensive care and hospitalisations are still rising in Finland. Leino also points out that if new infections are occurring among people who don’t require hospitalisation and therefore don’t get tested, they won’t show up in the R0 number.

To mask or not?

Finland’s coronavirus mask policy currently follows that of the WHO: they should be saved for healthcare personnel and those who are already sick.

There is however a growing movement in various countries aimed at emulating the East Asian custom of mass mask-wearing to prevent onward transmission.

Austria recently ruled that anyone entering a supermarket should wear a mask, and there have been mask-wearing drives in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Helsingin Sanomat asks (siirryt toiseen palveluun) whether such a movement might start in Finland, but unfortunately the THL declined an interview on the topic.

Other experts were split on the matter. Some said an incorrectly-used mask might be worse than no mask at all, while others suggested that anything was better than nothing.

The biggest problem is a global shortage of face masks that affects Finland just as everywhere else.

Mask proponents say their use is, however, mainly in preventing asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus from spreading it further, rather than stopping mask-wearers from acquiring the infection.

Posti pay problem

Long-time Yle News readers may remember the controversy over former Posti CEO Heikki Malinen’s bumper pay packets.

Talouselämä reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) today that Malinen’s remuneration remains in the spotlight six months after he left the firm following a scandal over plans to cut the pay of ordinary postal workers.

The company is, reports Talouselämä, tight-lipped over the reason for a large one-time payment to Malinen in the 2019 accounts.

The paper reports that Malinen received a bonus for work performed in 2018 on preparing the company to be listed on the stock market, a project that was cancelled at the last minute by the Juha Sipilä government.

The bonus is part of some 250,000 euros paid to Malinen for holiday bonuses, bonuses, and one-off payments.

His total package for the nine months up to his resignation on 1 October amounted to 915,355 euros.

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