Friday's papers: From pandemic to endemic, Porvoo tragedy and a late autumn storm

Seasonal variations may be one factor behind Finland's recent surge in Covid infections, a University of Helsinki researcher tells Helsingin Sanomat.

Viral infections are more likely to spread during the months of November and December. Image: Miikka Varila / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat writes (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that with the number of Covid infections escalating "alarmingly" — including Thursday's all-pandemic daily high — we could be in for a long winter, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In the paper's most-read article on Friday morning, Tuomas Aivelo, a postdoctoral researcher in viral ecology at the University of Helsinki, told HS that the seasonal variation of respiratory viruses means they typically spread more quickly in the months of November and December.

"That’s why I’m optimistic about spring," Aivelo said, adding that next summer will be "especially interesting" as the virus is likely to become more affected by these seasonal factors.

"After all, the transition from a pandemic to an endemic situation is about two to four years," he said, meaning that the virus is more likely to spread in local clusters when it becomes endemic, rather than more widely as during a pandemic.

However, there are still many other factors at play that could influence the situation, including of course vaccination rollout, which HS noted has slowed in recent weeks. Pasi Pohjola, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health's strategic director, also told the paper that another crucial factor will be how strictly people adhere to restrictions introduced to curb the spread of infections.

"A lot depends on how the restrictive measures that are being introduced now will take effect and what impact they will have on people's behaviour," Pohjola said.

"Shocking" tragedy in Porvoo

Many papers on Friday morning report on a tragic story from Porvoo, where a mother and her child were found dead at an apartment in the city on Thursday evening.

Tabloid Iltalehti writes (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that police believe the death of a man — understood to be the father of the family — following a car crash in the Kyläsaari district of Helsinki later on Thursday is linked to the discovery of the two bodies in Porvoo.

"We are investigating the case as two murders, in close cooperation with the Eastern Uusimaa police," Detective Inspector Jan Aarnisalo told IL, adding that as the investigation is still in the preliminary stages he cannot reveal more details at this stage.

IL adds that Eastern Uusimaa's crisis centre is providing the necessary psychosocial support for relatives and those close to the deceased.

"Such events are rare, but they can also cause feelings of insecurity in others. You should not be left alone with your thoughts. Conversation relieves anxiety. You can share your thoughts with your loved ones but, if necessary, you can also contact external professional support," Kirsi Nurme of the crisis centre told IL.

"This news is shocking and sad, and it certainly affects everyone in Porvoo," the city's mayor Jukka-Pekka Ujula said.

The storm before the snow

Ilta-Sanomat reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the Finnish Meteorological Institute has issued a storm warning for the southern and western coastal areas of Finland between Friday night and Saturday morning, as a low pressure front is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rain showers to the region.

"In these areas, it is likely that wind strength will rise to storm levels, with the strongest gusts around 30 m / s in places," Foreca's meteorologist Anna Latvala said in a press release.

The winds are likely to be more moderate inland, Latvala added, although the exact route of the low pressure front is difficult to predict.

One thing does seem certain though: there will be snow this weekend, even in central and southern areas of the country as temperatures are expected to drop to zero and below by Saturday evening and into Sunday.