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Wednesday's papers: Finland's anti-vaxxers, an expensive winter ahead and foreign house hunters

Omicron worries dominate Finnish headlines on Wednesday, but there was other news, too.

As Covid cases in Finland soar, Helsingin Sanomat reports that some 100,000 unvaccinated people in the capital region are out and about at school and work. Image: Mirva Ekman / Yle

Some 100,000 people in the capital region are unvaccinated, according to Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun). Public health institute THL's figures show that people under 40 make up the majority of this group.

Residents with foreign backgrounds less likely to be vaccinated against Covid than native Finns, Lasse Lehtonen, Director of Diagnostics at the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), told the paper.

The most common foreign languages in the Helsinki region are Russian, Estonian, Somali and Arabic.

HS notes that among all population groups, lower levels of education correspond to vaccine hesitancy. Lehtonen noted that Russian-language propaganda criticises western Covid vaccines.

A recent survey by FARO, an organisation for Russian speakers in Finland, found that 70 percent of respondents were suspicious of Covid vaccines.

Cold and pricey winter

Winter is only beginning but business daily Kauppalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) says electricity prices will remain high for months to come—until spring.

Finland has been paying exceptionally high power prices for the past 23 days, with wholesale prices exceeding 100 euros per megawatt hour. That number is expected to come down to 60 euros next April or May.

The situation is squeezing small businesses. KL notes that an agricultural producer in North Savo already said it would stop its power-hungry endeavour of growing cucumbers this winter and was also laying off staff as it struggled to pay for electricity.

Mika Kuismanen, Chief Economist at the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, said the country's energy production capacity will improve next year when Olkiluoto 3, Finland's fifth commercial nuclear reactor, is expected to start up.

"But that's in the future and it gives us some hope. Before that we have to get through this winter and the bills that come with it," Kuismanen told KL.

House hunting while foreign

Finland has approved all real estate purchase applications submitted by foreign residents in the past two years, reports Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Since the start of 2020, individuals who are not EU or EEA nationals have needed to get a permit from the government to buy property.

The Defence Ministry has so far approved 1,059 such real estate purchases.

Rules on foreign property ownership in Finland changed following a major police operation near Turku that focused on a Russian-owned firm suspected of money laundering. The government said it wanted to have the right to intervene in transactions that it believed could jeopardise national security.