Tuesday's papers: Vaccination divide, pet registry, Nazi name blunder

Helsingin Sanomat writes that Finnish health officials continue to favour a carrot over a stick when it comes to boosting coronavirus vaccine uptake.

If approved by Parliament, a new a new Animal Welfare Act will require all dogs and cats to be microchipped and registered. Image: Miikka Varila / Yle

The Helsinki daily Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun)poses the question: Is society dividing into worlds of the vaccinated and the unvaccinated?

As the paper points out, despite earlier projections, coronavirus vaccination coverage of the population over 12 years of age had not yet exceeded 80 percent as of Monday. Although the target is likely to be reached within the next few days, it is clear that enthusiasm for vaccination has declined.

At the same time, HS notes, the number of Covid hospitalisations is climbing towards a new pandemic record. The growing need for hospital care is partly explained by the high number of cases among those who are not vaccinated against the virus.

It had been believed that vaccination would crush the pandemic, but now experts in Finland estimate that the strain on hospitals will continue for years to come. The problem also seems to be that many people, for one reason or another, do not want to take the vaccine.

Helsingin Sanomat therefore wonders if we may find ourselves in a world where a compulsory vaccination is required in some sectors, a strict Covid "passport" is implemented, or even lockdowns imposed on the unvaccinated.

Mika Salminen, Director of Health Security at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), stressed to the paper that he hopes that there will not a polarisation of society.

"We know that coercion will not solve the problem of the slowdown in vaccination uptake, but may even lead to a worsening of attitudes," said Salminen.

"Carrots are always a better option. The starting point must be to share the right information and make it understandable," he added.

The coronavirus has come to stay, Salminen further pointed out, and it is also inevitable that the situation will place an additional burden on healthcare for several more years.

For this reason, he underlined that there should be a public discussion about the continuing impact on healthcare resources and about labour shortages in the field. This is an issue that concerns not just Finland, but the rest of Europe as well.

Pet Registry

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the government in planning to make microchipping and registration of all cats and dogs mandatory within the next few years.

The plan is included in the government’s proposal for a new Animal Welfare Act, which was distributed for review last week.

To date, neither chipping nor registration of dogs or cats has been mandatory. Registering pets with the Kennel Club and the Cat Association has been a requirement for participation in competitions or shows.

Chipping has long been required by the Kennel Club. According to the Kennel Club's Harri Lehkonen more than 70 percent of the Finnish dog population has been registered.

A microchip is required for purebred kittens to be registered with the Cat Association, and it is also possible to register domestic cats in the microchip registry.

Microchipping and registration are seen by animal welfare organisations as a partial solution to the "cat crisis". According to the Finnish Animal Welfare Association (SEY), it is estimated that at least 20,000 cats are abandoned in Finland each year. It is hoped that microchipping all cats would significantly reduce this number.

A new Animal Welfare Act is due to enter into force at the beginning of 2023. Microchipping and registration of all dogs will be required from the beginning of the same year, and for cats from 2026.

Nazi name blunder

The Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun)takes up what it describes as a "blunder" on the part of officials at the Finnish Patent and Registration Office.

On 27 May of this year, the office granted a company permission to call itself "Oy Arbeit Macht Frei Ltd".

"Arbeit Macht Frei" is a German phrase meaning "Work sets you free", a Nazi slogan best known as appearing on the entrance of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The Patent and Registration Office has now announced that the name was approved in error and apologised for the mistake.

"We are sorry. The administrator in question does not speak German and did not remember that the expression was inappropriate," the office wrote on Twitter.

The company in question still has use of the name. The Patent and Registration Office says it is now moving to have it revoked by the Supreme Administrative Court.

Snow, rain, and slippery roads

After a wintry start to the week in large parts of the country the weather is expected to warm up again as of Tuesday. The cold is forecast to make a return by the weekend, however, according to Helsinki's Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Snowfall is expected is western and central regions on Tuesday, turning to rain late in the day, along with the possibility of storm-level gusts of wind.

There is a warning of hazardous driving conditions nationwide, with the exception of southern coastal areas. Roads are likely to be slippery especially in central and northern areas as temperatures begin to rise.