Coronavirus latest: 22k new cases over the weekend; millions spent on face masks, home tests; Greens leader confirms Covid infection

This article brings you the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic in Finland.

A risk-group patient receiving a fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine. Image: Benjamin Suomela / Yle

Check Yle's dashboard for a range of regional, national and international Covid data.

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25.1 12:12 Finnish researchers identify drugs that prevent coronavirus infection

Researchers at the University of Tampere have reportedly identified two existing drugs that can prevent coronavirus infection. The drugs are able to inhibit infection caused by the original virus as well as the Delta variant, according to the researchers.

Their findings indicate that the combination of two compounds, 7-hydroxystaurosporine and bafetinib, can inhibit the formation of coronavirus cells.

Furthermore, the researchers said that experimentation on human cells showed that the drug combination was still effective in preventing further infection, even one hour after the initial infection of the cells. Read more here.

25.1 11:54 Environment minister Kari tests positive for Covid in at-home test

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Emma Kari (Green) announced on Monday that she received a positive test result on a rapid at-home Covid-19 test. The minister tweeted that the results will be confirmed with a PCR test.

Kari said that she has been quarantining at home since Friday evening after she returned to Finland from France, where she attended an informal meeting between energy and environment ministers.

24.1 15:55 Greens leader Suomela, Economic Affairs minister Lintilä confirm Covid infections

Green League interim leader Iiris Suomela announced on Monday that she has tested positive for Covid-19.

The Tampere MP has been quarantining at home since Friday due to her infant child being infected with the virus. Read more here.

In addition, Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Cen) also revealed on Monday that he has tested positive for the virus.

"I am asymptomatic and I will work remotely," Lintilä wrote on Twitter.

24.1 13:28 Public sector services hit by Covid-induced staff absences

Accelerating coronavirus infection rates have temporarily taken large numbers of people out of the workforce, leading to shortages in a number of key public service sectors.

The City of Turku, public transport in the Turku region, and waste management in southwestern Finland have all announced that they are preparing for personnel shortages caused by the upswing in infection rates.

Read more on this story here.

24.1 13:24 THL: 22,520 new cases over the weekend

Finland registered 22,520 new lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 over the weekend, the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported on Monday.

Monday's figure is the total number of cases diagnosed in the country since the last time the health agency reported such figures on Friday.

24.1 10:00 Paper: Millions spent on face masks, home tests

Our daily newspaper roundup found that tabloid Iltalehti calculated how much money consumers in Finland spent on masks and home tests since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the paper, the S-Group retail chain alone reports that it has sold approximately 200 million masks since the beginning of March 2020.

Read more about this and broad coverage of Sunday's county council elections here.

23.1 14:41 Voting safely in Finland's first regional elections

On Sunday, residents of Finland are voting in the first-ever regional elections, with ballot boxes open until 8 pm. Last year's municipal elections were postponed from April to June to the coronavirus situation. However, electoral authorities decided not to delay the historic county elections.

According to Arto Jääskeläinen, Director of the Electoral Administration at the Ministry of Justice, every effort has been made to ensure safe voting procedures.

Find out how here.

23.1 12:09 Poll: 82% want co-workers to be vaccinated

The vast majority of working people hope that their co-workers have been vaccinated against Covid-19. That is the view of 82 percent of respondents in a survey published by the Federation of Finnish Enterprises on Sunday. Having vaccinated colleagues was especially important to those over age 55.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents backed compulsory vaccinations for employees in the care sector.

More details here.

22.1 15:45 Thousands protest Covid restrictions in Helsinki, Jyväskylä

Some 4,000 people gathered in Helsinki on Saturday afternoon to protest against Covid restrictions, according to police.

A march left Senate Square around 2:30 pm, heading along Mannerheimintie toward Railway Square, police said, adding that protestors were obstructing traffic.

Meanwhile some 450–500 people took part in a similar protest in Jyväskylä, central Finland. More details here.

22.1 15:42 38.6% of total population boosted

As of Saturday afternoon, 38.6 percent of the total population have received third or booster doses of coronavirus vaccine, according to the health institute THL. That's almost 44 percent of those aged 12 and over, who are currently eligible for shots.

Meanwhile 76.1 percent of the total population have received two jabs, and 73.1 of the total population have had at least one dose.

21.1 15:33 Several Finnish regions ending official quarantines

The hospital districts of Pirkanmaa and Central Finland as well as the City of Helsinki, have announced that they will abandon official quarantines, imposed by the authorities, on individuals testing positive for the coronavirus. The HUS areas where the new protocol will be rolled out in stages include Espoo, Hyvinkää, Järvenpää, Kauniainen, Kerava, Mäntsälä, Nurmijärvi, Pornainen, Porvoo, Sipoo, Tuusula and Vantaa.

Read more here.

21.1 11:37 HUS missing vaccine data

Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district is missing vaccine data on around a quarter of its Covid patients, thanks to a change in the way the data is recorded. Read more here.

21.1 10:00 Finns Party supporters most vaccine-hesitant

Today's paper review includes news of party affiliations of those most resistant to getting vaccinated against Covid. Finns Party supporters are the ones least likely to get jabbed, according to a poll in Aamulehti. Read more here.

For previous updates click here