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Friday papers: Finnish troops to Afghanistan, vaccine side effects, Tampere traffic congestion

Roughly 0.2 percent of vaccinees have reported symptoms that vary from the not-so-serious to fatal, HBL reports.

En bild på president Sauli Niinistö.
Finland's president Sauli Niinistö spoke to Ilta-Sanomat about the deployment of Finnish troops in Kabul. Image: imago/newspix/ All Over Press
Yle News

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö believes Finnish troops being deployed in Afghanistan to safeguard the evacuation of Finnish citizens from the country will not be at risk of harm, according to an interview in tabloid Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

The government announced the deployment of a small team of Defence Forces personnel to the Afghan capital on Thursday, the first time a Finnish military force has been deployed in a strictly protective capacity.

"The article on international military assistance, which has been in force since 2017, applies here. This has never been applied to a Finnish military unit before," Niinistö told IS.

The move follows similar deployments by Denmark, Norway and Germany. Parliament is due to confirm the proposed deployment in a vote on Friday.

"They don't seem to have run into any danger, and I don't think the Finns will either," Niinistö stressed.

In response to questions from Ilta-Sanomat on when the Finnish troops would be withdrawn from Kabul, Niinistö said the timeframe was unclear, but "the sooner, the better."

The President refused to say how long the operation had been in preparation.

This week's All Points North podcast looks at the departure of western countries from Afghanistan as the capital Kabul falls into the hands of the Taliban.

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

Article continues after audio.

Vaccine side effects

While side-effects are more common with the coronavirus vaccines than with other jabs, they don't tend to be serious, an expert from Finland's medicines agency Fimea has told Swedish-language Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

"There is more fever and headache than with other vaccines, but the symptoms usually disappear in a few days," Fimea senior doctor Maija Kaukonen told HBL.

From the roughly six million doses of Covid vaccine distributed in Finland so far, there have been around 11,000 reports of side effects after the jab, the paper reports. They vary from the mild to the fatal.

One 40-year-old man who suffered a stroke 11 days after his jab earlier this summer became the youngest person to die following a coronavirus vaccine in Finland, HBL writes. Lifestyle factors, which can include being a heavy smoker, obesity and high blood pressure may also have been a factor in the case, the paper says.

"Deaths among our oldest and most frail elderly people in nursing homes across Finland may also be attributed to the vaccines," Kaukonen told HBL.

"Common, simple reactions to them triggered the spiral that eventually led to deaths of the elderly. The deaths were recorded according to their underlying diseases, but the vaccine cannot be ruled out as an intermediate, triggering cause," she said.

Anyone can file a report of vaccine side-effects with Fimea, HBL reports, although it is recommended to first seek medical attention in severe cases and include your doctor's feedback.

"Sometimes what we get from patients is so vague that we can't do anything [with the information]," Kaukonen told the paper.

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Back to work and back to spending hours in the car

It is not only 'back to business' for a lot of people in Finland returning to their workplaces, but also back to the long dreaded car commute, local daily Aamulehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)writes.

The Tampere local observed the traffic situation of home commuters between 15:30 and 16:30 on Thursday, and found tightly-packed queues of vehicles stretching from Tampere's Hämeenpuisto all the way to Rautatienkatu - a distance of roughly a kilometre.

The partial return to workplaces, following the limbo of remote working, is only partly to blame for the worsening traffic congestion, Aamulehti writes. The biggest culprit is the "nothing if not familiar" to Tampere locals roadworks and tramline construction sites, the paper claims.

Others also blame the traffic lights as unfairly favouring public transport over drivers, Aamulehti reports.

"People are quick to judge that the traffic lights have been poorly adjusted. But we have in fact used Finland's best [traffic] planner. All commuter groups would like to see their trip become smoother, however that's a pretty impossible equation to solve," the city's planning manager, Ari Vandell, told Aamulehti.

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