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Monday's papers: Finland's Omicron worries, sluggish boosters and Covid at sea

Omicron, the most mutated form of coronavirus detected so far, fuels domestic headlines on Monday.

Finland's vaccine agency Krar is convening on Wednesday to debate third doses for people under 60. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Breakthrough Covid infections among fully vaccinated individuals are more common right now than the seasonal flu in the capital region and Turku, according to Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun). These infections have been mild—characterised by head aches and runny noses, HS says.

Finland on Sunday imposed entry restrictions for people arriving from southern Africa.

With Omicron setting off alarms, Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)meanwhile explores a rift between the government and expert health organisations.

Citing government sources, IL claims public health institute THL and the National Advisory Committee on Vaccines (Krar) have not responded to the administration's request to speed up the rollout of third Covid vaccines doses to adults under the age of 60.

The article criticises vaccine specialist Hanna Nohynek. An anonymous government source suggests that as a believer in herd immunity, Nohynek has not wanted to speed up boosters, though top-up shots have been made available in other countries.

In mid-October the government announced Finland would have 2.6 million surplus doses this year to cover third shots. This implies that the decision to not expand third doses has not hinged on a lack of vaccines, according to IL.

The paper also notes that a month-old Pfizer-Biontech study of 10,000 people showed 109 individuals contracted Covid after two doses while the same was true for five individuals who had gotten three shots.

Last week the head of the EU's public health agency said vaccine boosters should be considered for all adults, with priority for those over 40 years. That said, IL reports that the government wants its health organisations to abide by European guidelines, instead of questioning them.

Krar is convening on Wednesday to consider offering third doses to people under 60.

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Sea travel

Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun) meanwhile reports that ferry company Tallink Silja will start demanding Covid passes from travellers embarking from Stockholm.

Passes aren't, however, mandatory for passengers stepping on ships on the Finnish side of the gulf, according to HBL, as current Covid restrictions don't cover the ferry industry.

The passenger shipping company said it used to transport some 10 million passengers annually before the pandemic.