Thursday Papers: Emergency powers, false positives, expensive gas anger

The government is expected to announce a decision on whether to use extraordinary powers in the coming days.

The powers to be adopted relate to directing the operations of healthcare and social welfare units. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Various newspapers including tabloid Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)and swedish-speaking Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun)discuss the government's preparations to re-enforce the Emergency Powers Act as Covid case counts rise.

Officials have begun preparations to adopt sections 86 and 88 of the Act, which were last in force during spring 2021. Among other things, activating the healthcare sector-related sections of the legislation would allow for cancellation of staff holidays and deviations from working time regulations.

Nevertheless, the infrequently-used law cannot be introduced before other preventative measures, such as switching to remote learning in schools, have been first tested, Iltalehti writes.

The largest circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) was the first to break the story.

There has been no comment from politicians on the possibility of activating the legislation, although Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) did hint on the possibility on Saturday. The government’s coronavirus coordination group is expected to announce a decision on the matter later in the week or early next week, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

False positives, although rare, are a thing

With the omicron variant spreading fast and roughly 30 percent of lab-confirmed tests now positive, a positive lateral flow test result is likely reliable, however there are cases where the result has been false, Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) columnist Toni Lehtinen writes.

After seeing two lines on a rapid test, Lehtinen had to cancel a family reunion and alert the people that had been possibly exposed. Following a PCR test, however, Lehtinen was told that he did not have the virus after all.

This is a rare occurrence; between half and one percent of store-sold lateral flow tests are false positives, according to Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) Director Lasse Lehtonen.

The reliability of home tests largely depends on the amount of the virus material present in each tested sample. For this reason, false negatives are much more common compared to false positive results, the column says.

Disgruntled drivers bemoan petrol prices

Petrol prices are rising in Finland, with the price per litre having surpassed 2 euros in many places, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) writes.

The tabloid spoke to four Finns that have begun to notice the strain the price increase is placing on their daily lives.

"It is frustrating. Driving the car is a necessity after all," Lapua driver Pentti Ylituomaala told the paper, adding that he now spends more time planning and always writes up a shopping list in advance in order to limit car trips.

With the recession brought about by the coronavirus pandemic subsiding, the world market price of crude oil has shot up.

Ilta-Sanomat's interviewees are, however, also displeased with government's taxes on fuel and the lack of intervention to the inflated costs.

"Ministers should take a stand and stop justifying rising prices. They should take the side of the people on this matter," Iisalmi resident Kalle Muranan told the tabloid.