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Wednesday's papers: Snowstorm and Covid crunch

The press on Wednesday was still adjusting to the sight of snow in the capital.

Finland is shovelling a lot of snow on Wednesday. Image: Lehtikuva

Helsinki has been hit hard by snowstorm Toini, and it shows in the papers on Tuesday. Ilta-Sanomat has a live blog (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that includes a mesmerising embedded video from a snow plough doing the rounds in central Helsinki, along with all the latest updates from the winter storm.

It is quite a snowstorm. Helsingin Sanomat says (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that Helsinki has now got the deepest snow cover in the country, with some 46 centimetres recorded on Tuesday evening at Helsinki-Vantaa airport. That's the same as Posio in Lapland.

And there's more on the way. HS reports that 10-15 centimetres of additional precipitation is due on Wednesday, quoting a meteorologist from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

The weather is different in the north, with a cold front bringing temperatures well below zero. In North Karelia it was -20 degrees Celsius, and the capital region too will see a drop in the mercury on Wednesday once the snow stops falling.

Snow shovel rush

Pampered southerners have grown accustomed to mild winters, if we are to judge by the flood of social media posts around snow clearance work on Tuesday.

The responsibility to remove snow is taken seriously by Finnish households, and this week Kauppalehti reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) it has caused a rush on snow-shifting gear that has delighted one firm in Rauma, on the west coast.

Motoseal Components has not enjoyed the milder winters of recent years,

"In the capital city and Turku regions all the snow clearance tools were left in the warehouse," said Motoseal Managing Director Kari Sallinen. "Thankfully past years' stock is now getting cleared and next autumn we can start selling new stock."

"As a snow shovel guy you've got to be satisfied with these conditions," said Sallinen.

The firm made 6.7 million euros in turnover last financial year, and employs a dozen workers in production. They are stepping up their output now, but the snow shovel season is nearly over — shops won't order more shovels after February.

Corona crunch

Helsingin Sanomat has a preview (siirryt toiseen palveluun) of a ministerial meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening, in which the government will decide on additional measures to combat coronavirus.

On Tuesday the municipality of Helsinki said it would start offering Covid tests on ships plying the route between Tallinn and the Finnish capital.

That's because of fears over the new variants of Covid-19 that originated in South Africa and the UK and are believed to be considerably more contagious than the original strain.

There is little sequencing of positive test samples in Estonia so it is not clear how prevalent those strains are there, but the overall epidemic situation in the country is significantly worse than it is in Finland at the moment, so ministers want to see what they can do to tighten things up.

They are considering asking for negative test results from those travelling for work and removing the right to travel to Finland for family reasons.

Some 32,000 people a week have travelled between Estonia and Finland during January.

HS reports that the government is also looking at the conditions under which events can be arranged in areas that are in the community transmission stage of the epidemic, and may even look at whether there are grounds to bring back the emergency powers act in light of the much higher transmission rates of the new variant.

HS notes that in Ireland that two-week prevalence of Covid-19 has risen to 1,329 cases per 100,000 people. As many as 45 percent of those positive cases are identified as coming from the new strain.

A month ago Ireland's two-week prevalence was 80 cases per 100,000 people. Finland's number is currently 65.