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Tuesday's papers: Coronavirus strategy, reproduction numbers and a strategy to fight depression

The press on Tuesday focused on decisions to open up Finnish society in June.

Restaurants can start to open up from 14 May. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The big story on Tuesday is Finland's grand reopening, currently scheduled in stages from 14 May to 1 June.

Restaurants, libraries, sports events and gatherings up to 50 people are all to be permitted, as the country shifts gears in the fight against coronavirus. But what is the government's strategy in fighting the virus?

Helsingin Sanomat looks at (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that question, delving into the background material published by the government on Tuesday around its announcements.

It turns out that the advice on which Sanna Marin's cabinet made their decisions holds that stopping the virus is impossible, as this is a global pandemic.

Suppressing it temporarily may be possible, but then it would come back. So the report recommends that Finland implement a "controlled, but not too powerful mitigation".

Finland's strategy will, therefore, be judged on the four words repeated again and again on Monday evening: test, trace, isolate and treat.

Will the country have enough testing capacity? Will people be able to get tested easily? Has Finland hired enough contact tracers? Is their work organised well enough? Will we quickly get the government-promised contact-tracing smartphone app? Will people isolate quickly enough?

Finland's strategy in slowing the virus will depend on those questions, according to HS, but there's also another question from other countries with much higher death tolls.

How easy is it to protect the over 70s, care home residents and other risk groups when the world around them starts to look pretty much like normal from 1 June?

Although ministers said there'd be no return to the 'new normal', a lot of social distancing will from 1 June be the responsibility of individuals rather than the government.

Not just a number

The government will, reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) Ilta-Sanomat, be following lots of data and not just the R0 figure. That is the number of people each confirmed coronavirus case infects.

Marin said on Monday that Finland's R0 number is currently 0.8, but that was not the only significant metric.

It is also important to track how quickly the numbers change — if there's a rapid spike, it will be time to re-impose some restrictions.

Mental health help

Kauppalehti publishes a big feature (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on depression, following figures from the Finnish Centre for Pensions on early retirements related to mental health.

The headline news is that there has been a rise in women retiring from the workforce on medical grounds due to depression.

Especially women aged under 35 and over 60 are at risk of depression-related sick leave, and two-thirds of those taking early retirement due to depression are women.

The paper has a case study (siirryt toiseen palveluun) alongside the stat-laden feature, with lessons from S-Group on how the grocery co-op has managed to reduce depression-related sick leaves.

The firm has three pillars to its approach. Middle management have been taught to talk openly about mental health, employees are given short therapy sessions within two weeks of starting sick leave, and as soon as people are no longer showing symptoms, the company initiates discussions on returning to work.

Work might not be the same as before — the firm says it promises to make adjustments to allow people to come back — as depression can be linked to the workplace.

The strategy seems to be working: last year S-Group reduced mental health-related sick leaves by some 20 percent.

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