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Coronavirus updates 2.7-28.7

28.7 20:07 Returning holiday-makers reminded to self-quarantine

THL and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs have both spoken on Tuesday about their hope that Finns choosing to travel abroad will respect the safety of others when they return home.

"I hope that everyone would follow these recommendations carefully, but unfortunately I know that some completely ignore this," Ministry’s Director General of Consular Services Pasi Tuominen told Yle.

There is more on this story here.

28.7 13:20 Six new cases diagnosed since yesterday

The National Institute for Health and Welfare, the THL on Tuesday reported six new new cases of the coronavirus in Finland bring the total to 7,404 lab-confirmed infections. It reported no new deaths and that there were no COVID patients in intensive care units in the country.

28.7 13:00 Finland ponders face masks as second wave concerns mount

With restrictions being lifted, concerns are growing that Finland could see a resurgence of the coronavirus in the autumn. To combat a possible second wave, some experts are now calling for a national recommendation for the use of face masks.

27.7 21:02 Return to work may be even more difficult this year

As the summer holiday season in Finland winds down and people prepare to 'return' to work, an occupational psychologist has advised those who will still be telecommuting to be wary of the negative effects of working from home.

"We all need the support of a professional work community and this is an important part of life for an adult," Liisa Uusitalo-Arola told Yle.

27.7 18:44 Finland's stock market showing signs of strong recovery

The Helsinki Stock Exchange has recovered to pre-coronavirus crisis levels, despite forecasts that the Finnish economy will likely contract by up to seven percent this year.

There is more on this story here.

27.7 13:15 Five new cases reported in Finland

The National Institute for Health and Welfare, the THL on Monday reported five new cases of the coronavirus in Finland, bring the recorded total to 7,398 lab-confirmed cases.

27.7 10:30 Border controls return for traffic from Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland

Border checks are again in force for anyone arriving in Finland from Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland, and restrictions have been extended for traffic to Finland from Spain, Luxembourg, Portugal, Poland, France, Sweden and the Czech Republic. Any travelers from these three countries are urged to quarantine themselves for two weeks on arrival in Finland.

26.7 13:30 Five new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland has five new coronavirus infections, according to the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the THL. In total Finland has recorded some 7,393 coronavirus infections.

26.7 13:25 MEPs welcome coronavirus rescue package

Finnish MEPs are broadly supportive of the stimulus fund announced by EU leaders last week. Of the 14 MEPS from Finland, 11 told Yle they support the deal.

Our story is here.

25.7 17:52 Covid-hit berry industry welcomes belated arrival of Thai harvesters

Thailand's government will allow migrant labourers to come to Finland and Sweden to pick berries this summer after all, with strict guidelines for employers and workers.

The Thai Ministry of Labour made the announcement on Saturday.

The Finnish berry industry is heavily reliant on foreign labour, but until now Thailand has forbidden its workers to travel here due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Finnish berry firms welcomed the move as better late than never, since the season is already well underway.

You can read more here.

25.7 16:38 Eight new cases on Saturday

Eight new coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Finland, the national health agency THL said on Saturday. That brings the official total of lab-confirmed cases to 7,388.
The first death in three weeks was reported on Friday, bringing the total to 329. That was the third in a month, with the previous fatalities reported on 26 June and 3 July.

As of Friday, there were four patients in hospital, none of them in intensive care.

25.7 14:31 Poll: Most back delays in big public purchases

With the Finnish economy experiencing a sharp plunge this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of residents surveyed say that big-ticket public spending ventures such as a new fleet of Air Force jets should be postponed.

Supporters of government parties tend to back delaying public acquisitions, increasing taxes and debt and boosting work-based immigration. Meanwhile backers of opposition parties prefer cuts in benefits and services, and to allow locally-agreed labour contracts. Read our article here.

25.7 11:26 Moody's: Finnish economy will recover by 3% next year

The ratings agency Moody's says Finland's rating outlook remains stable even though the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a sharp shrinking of GDP. In a statement issued early Saturday Finnish time, it kept Finland's debt rating at Aa1, its second highest level.

Moody's predicts that Finland's post-corona economic problems will be similar to that of its EU peers, but that the low cost of borrowing available to the country will soften the impact of new debt.

For more details, click here.

24.7 15:56 Some home improvement firms thrive during pandemic

More Finnish firms posted Q2 losses on Friday, but some related to home improvement showed higher profits since the pandemic began.

For instance, paint manufacturer Tikkurila, piping manufacturer Uponor and renovation firm Consti all saw profits climb this spring and early summer. Read more here.

24.7 12:45 Eight new Covid-19 cases in Finland

Finland reported eight new Covid-19 cases on Friday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The total number of infections is now 7,380. The number of deaths from the disease rose by one to 329, the first change since 3 July. Four people were said to be in hospital, with no patients in intensive care. Deaths and hospitalisations updated at 13:55

24.7 11.14 THL: Uneven access to testing in Finland

Finland has seen a strong increase in testing for novel coronavirus this summer, but there are variations in access to getting tested in different parts of the country, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. THL director Mika Salminen told Yle’s morning radio programme Ykkösaamu that everyone should be able to get tested at their nearest health centre. More on that story here.

23.7 20:55 Pandemic-hit HSL pares transit services

Public transport services will be trimmed in the Helsinki region as of 10 August.

The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) said on Thursday that has been forced to halt some routes and cut back on others due to its suddenly worsened fiscal situation. The changes will particularly impact bus and train traffic. You can read more in our story here.

23.7 19:18 Finland reinstates travel restrictions on Switzerland, Slovenia and Austria

The government has decided to again impose border checks for people arriving from Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland. That means that as of Monday these people will be urged to voluntarily quarantine themselves for two weeks on arrival in Finland. The number of coronavirus infections in these three countries has once again begun to rise.

Meanwhile restrictions are being loosened for a number of other countries, including China, Japan and South Korea.

Details here.

23.7 15:45 HUS looks to expand drive-in testing service

The Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District has announced plans to expand its drive-in coronavirus testing service. There are currently ten testing stations in the Uusimaa region, and district authorities hope to add as many more as possible -- especially in the cities of Espoo and Vantaa.

23.7 15:05 APN Podcast: PM Marin and what went down in Brussels

Prime Minister Sanna Marin punched back at criticism of the EU's recently-negotiated recovery package at a news conference this week and declared that the bloc's unprecedented decision to move toward joint borrowing is a one-off. However she admitted that a new budgeting provision that allows the EU to raise taxes is likely here to stay.

Marin is now facing a flurry of complaints claiming that she overstepped the limits of the authority placed in her by Parliament's Constitutional Law Committee to negotiate the package on Finland's behalf. Listen as APN returns from its summer break to look at the devil in the details, the implications of what really went down in Brussels and whether or not Marin will get the backing required for constitutional changes the deal will require in Finland.

You can listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here, Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed. Be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts and sign up for the APN newsletter.

Story continues after audio.

Audio: Yle News

23.7 14:12 Finland reports 10 new coronavirus cases

The latest figures from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare show that there are 10 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total figure up to 7,372.

22.7 20:10 Funds struggle under weight of corona-related jobless claims

Five of Finland’s largest unemployment funds say that a deluge of applications for earnings-based unemployment benefits caused by the Covid-19 crisis has caused major backlogs processing claims. In many instances applicants had to wait have much longer than the 30 days the law stipulates for a decision. Read more in our story here.

22.7 18:50 PM defends EU recovery package

Prime Minister Sanna Marin put up a spirited defence of the 750-billion-euro defence of the EU's coronavirus recovery fund negotiated by member states earlier this week while speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

During a press conference at her official residence Kesäranta, Marin said that Finland achieved its objective in the marathon four-day talks by negotiating a package that was more evenly balanced between grant and loan funding. Read more here.

22.7 18:46 11 new Covid-19 cases, deaths at a standstill

Finland reported 11 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The new infections bring the overall total to 7,362. Meanwhile the agency said that four patients were receiving hospital treatment for the disease; there were no patients in intensive care units.

The death toll from the disease has not changed since 3 July and remains at 328.

22.7 18:40 Sniffer dogs now tracking coronavirus

Researchers at the University of Helsinki say they have successfully gotten trained dogs to identify urine samples from coronavirus patients. "This research has exceeded our expectations," said researcher Anna Hielm-Björkman. "The dogs have identified cancer and other diseases in the past, but we have been surprised at how much easier it is for the dogs to spot corona." Read the full story here.

21.7 19:32 Opposition and farmers react to coronavirus crisis recovery plan

Opposition parties have criticised the EU budget deal. Farmers are less hostile, with one union boss saying he was glad subsidies were increasing slightly.

Our story is here.

21.7 15:24 11 new infections diagnosed since Monday

There have been 11 new cases of coronavirus detected in Finland since yesterday, according to the latest figures from THL. There are currently six people in hospital being treated for the virus, one of whom is in intensive care.

21.7 14:05 Unemployment up during corona crisis

New figures show that the unemployment rate rose sharply in the last few months. Our story on the stats is here.

21.7 10:56 EU leaders reach deal coronavirus recovery package

After four nights of negotiations, the leaders of the 27 EU member states have reached agreement on the terms of the coronavirus recovery package.

For more on the terms of the agreement, and what it means for Finland, read our story here.

20.7 15:42 No new Covid-19 deaths

No new coronavirus deaths were reported on Monday according to the THL. The death toll from the disease has remained unchanged at 328 since 3 July. The public health agency said that five patients were receiving treatment in hospital and one was in intensive care.

20.7 15:37 Contact tracing app to launch soon

A new mobile phone app will let users know if they have been in contact with people diagnosed with Covid-19. The app was developed by a technology firm in conjunction with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL and will be available for download from Google and Apple app stores from 31 August. Read the full story here.

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Älykellon appia voi käyttää puhelimessa.
A contact tracing app will be available for download from 31 August. Image: Kalevi Rytkölä / Yle

20.7 13:50 Unions wary of business lobby's reversal on universal earnings-based jobless benefit

The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) has reversed its previous opposition broadening earnings-based unemployment benefits to cover all eligible workers -- but major union confederations were not impressed by the lobby group's new position.

In a press release issued on Monday, the business lobby said that the coronavirus crisis has shown the current system to be unfair, and that the benefit should no longer be tied to membership in an unemployment fund. Read more here.

20.7 12:30 Five new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported five new lab-confirmed coronaviruses cases on Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The total number of infections now stands at 7,340. The death toll remains at 328, unchanged from 3 July.

20.7 9:20 Parties search for local election candidates despite pandemic

The coronavirus crisis has hampered Finland's political parties' recruitment of candidates ahead of next year's municipal elections, but efforts are renewing again -- with foreigners a target for many of the parties.

Read more on this story, and how you might become a candidate, here.

19.7 16:18 Summer boom for small towns

Little 1,000-inhabitant Kustavi in Finland’s southwest archipelago appears to have been the most popular destination for domestic tourists around Midsummer, according to mobile phone location data from teleoperator Telia. Kustavi mayor Veijo Katara said he believed that the biggest factor behind the situation was the coronavirus epidemic, which prompted people to go to their summer cottages and also inspired greater interest in domestic tourism. Read the full story here.

19.7 14:06 Secondary level students on alert for abrupt changes

Finland’s upper secondary and vocational school students are set to return to classrooms at the start of the new academic year in autumn. However education officials are warning that the situation might change unexpectedly depending on the coronavirus situation. Schools may end up having to alternate between contact and distance education if the coronavirus pandemic becomes a recurring global event or if there continue to be local outbreaks from time to time. Read more here.

19.7 12:13 17 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported 17 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. On Saturday the agency reported a similar number of new cases. The total number of infections now stands at 7,335. The death toll from the disease stands at 328, unchanged since 3 July.

19.7 11:30 Post-corona freedom fuelling some road accidents

The rollback of restrictions due to the coronavirus crisis has created a sense of abandon and recklessness that may be reflected in people’s behaviour in traffic, according to traffic psychologist, Martti Peräaho. Police have also said that they have observed more instances than usual of disregard for speed limits and other aggravated traffic offences, following recent reports of several fatalities and serious injuries in traffic accidents. Read the full story here.

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Kuvassa tyhjä valtatie 6.
Traffic officials say they've seen more instances of disregard for speed limits and other serious offences recently. Image: Eleni Paspatis / Yle

18.7 18:05 Consumers gobble up more fast food during Covid crisis

Covid-19 has eaten into many restaurants’ and cafes’ profits but it also appears to be feeding Finns’ appetite for fast food. A good example is local pizza chain Kotipizza, which said that in May this year it posted the strongest sales of its 33-year history. It said that revenues surged 17 percent compared to last year, while online orders skyrocketed 152 percent. Read more about the apparent shift to takeout meals here.

18.7 14:10 Kids none the worse for coronavirus spring

Children in Finland in general had a positive experience during the state of emergency that shut down schools and moved learning online from mid-March to mid-May. According to a survey of 4,000 daycare and primary school children released by the children’s NGO Unicef in Finland, few said the period was a bad time for them. Read more about the survey findings here.

18.7 12:22 17 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported 17 lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. Saturday’s cases bring the running total to 7,318. The number of deaths from the disease stood at 328 on Saturday and will next be updated on Monday.

18.7 11:55 "Old new normal" visible in Helsinki nightlife

Partygoers descended on downtown Helsinki on Friday night after being starved of nightlife during the state of emergency caused by the coronavirus epidemic. Last Monday government announced the further easing of curbs imposed to stem the spread of the virus, as standing alcohol laws were reinstated and establishments served alcohol until 4am instead of 1am. However bars and nightclubs are still required to provide separate seats for each customer. Read more about Yle's Friday night outing here.

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Takseja kesäyössä
Restrictions on alcohol service in bars and nightclubs were removed last Monday. Image: Reeta Niemonen / Yle

17.7 19:18 Sales of used cars increased during pandemic

The coronavirus crisis has led to an unexpected boom for the used car industry, with people eager to avoid public transport for fear of contracting the virus.

There is more on this story here.

17.7 16:13 Finnish companies report tough second quarter

The coronavirus crisis had a significant impact on some of the biggest companies on the Helsinki Stock Exchange, as the announcement of Q2 results revealed today.

17.7 12:35 Eight new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported eight new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infections to 7,301, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The death toll from the disease stands at 328.

17.7 12:00 Earnings-based jobless benefit reforms will cost, say labour market groups

Representatives of two union confederations and a private sector business lobby say they are open to looking at ways to improve the current system of earnings-based unemployment benefits. But they warn that attempts to broaden coverage to non-unionised workers will come at a cost. The discussion arose when it was revealed that 30,000 workers furloughed during the Covid-19 crisis did not receive earnings-based unemployment benefits because they did not belong to unemployment funds. Read more here.

16.7 18:00 PM Marin: No deal possible over EU's €750b recovery plan

Finland is still not fully on board with the European Council’s proposal for a 750-billion-euro recovery plan to be distributed to member states by way of grants and loans. Chair of Parliament’s Grand Committee Satu Hassi said that while the committee sees the recovery package as essential, it is still not satisfied with the way it is structured.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who briefed the Committee on Thursday morning along with European and constitutional law experts, said that it is possible that EU leaders meeting to discuss the package this weekend will not find consensus. Marin will represent Finland at the talks due to begin on Friday. Read the full story here.

16.7 17:05 Three fewer confirmed cases since Wednesday

The number of lab-confirmed infections in Finland stands at 7,923, a decrease of three from Wednesday. According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL, the numbers have been updated after data in the National Infectious Diseases Register was corrected to merge previously overlapping cases. The register may also be updated if a laboratory test result is incorrect, for example.

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Verinäytteitä Terveystalossa Espoossa 30. kesäkuuta 2020.
File photo of blood samples being taken at Terveystalo in Espoo for testing. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

16.7 12:48 Slot machines switch on as crisis eases

Part of Finland’s extensive network of slot machines lit up on Wednesday after a roughly four-month interval caused by the coronavirus shock. The network, which is owned and managed by the state-owned gambling monopoly Veikkaus, was shut down on 13 March to help slow transmission of the virus. However on Wednesday 8,000 machines were switched on in stores, kiosks, service stations and restaurants. Read the full story here.

16.7 11:12 Finland spends €13m to secure borders during crisis

The coronavirus crisis has seen Finland spend more to secure the western border than has ever been seen during peacetime. Costs have so far risen to nearly 13 million euros and hundreds of border guards have been relocated from other areas and even called out of retirement to work on the Swedish border. Read more here.

15.7 16:29 Rovaniemi update: 200 people now exposed

About 200 people have reportedly been exposed to the coronavirus in Rovaniemi, in an update to our earlier story.

15.7 14:13 More than 100 people exposed to virus in Lapland

Authorities in the Finnish Lapland city of Rovaniemi have reported that more than 100 people in the city were exposed to novel coronavirus last week from three people with confirmed infections.

There is more on this story here.

15.7 13:57 Latest figures show decrease in infections, confirmed deaths

The latest figures on coronavirus released by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Wednesday afternoon show a drop in the number of confirmed cases, down by five from Tuesday, and also one less confirmed death linked to the virus.

THL added a note to the new death toll figure of 328 to explain that the cause of death in one specific case has been found to have no link to novel coronavirus.

15.7 11:02 Court gives go-ahead to call off botched mask deal

Finland's National Emergency Supply Agency (Nesa) has the right to terminate an agreement to purchase protective masks from former reality-TV personality Tiina Jylhä’s firm and recover an advance payment, an Estonian court has ruled.

The Harju court’s decision relates to a disastrous deal to purchase protective masks from the beautician for more than five million euros. Nesa had paid out half of the total sum in advance, about 2.6 million euros, but Jylhä’s firm failed to deliver the agreed number of masks in the contracted delivery time. Read more here.

14.7 11:55 Coronavirus effects lead to Alko sales increase

Finland's state alcohol retailer Alko has reported selling nearly 44 million litres of alcohol in the first six months of this year, a 13.5 percent increase on sales volumes over the same period last year.

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic, such as the closure of bars and restaurants, contributed to the increased sales.

13.7 18:15 Restaurant restrictions lifted, but uncertainty lingers

The restrictions on opening hours, serving times and customer numbers imposed on restaurants, bars and cafes because of the coronavirus pandemic were lifted on Monday in Finland. However much uncertainty remains for both employers and employees. You can read more at this link.

13.7 16:55 Food Authority: Safe to eat berries despite infections among pickers

Consumers have voiced concern about eating domestic berries after nine seasonal farm workers were diagnosed with Covid-19 infections last week in the Päijät-Häme region near Lahti.

Leena Räsänen, head of food safety at the Finnish Food Authority, dismisses such worries and says that it is practically impossible to become infected with coronavirus via fresh produce. More details here.

13.7 15:43 THL unlikely to recommend school closures if pandemic re-emerges

Mika Salminen, Director of Health Security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), says that his agency would probably not recommend closing schools again if there is a second wave of Covid-19 in Finland. He said that studies indicate that the harm caused by school closures outweighs the possible benefit. You can read more here.

13.7 11:51 Restaurant restrictions lifted

Restrictions on restaurant opening hours, serving times and the number of customers that can be permitted to enter at any one time have been lifted from Monday.

Recommendations on hand hygiene and the maintaining of safe physical distances remain in place.

13.7 10:30 Borders reopen with 28 countries

Finland will reopen its borders on Monday with 17 European and 11 non-European countries.

See the full list of countries here.

11.7 17:23 Dozen more cases, five deaths in past month

Twelve new coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Finland, the national health agency THL said on Saturday. That brings the official total of lab-confirmed cases to 7,291, although the actual number is likely to be many times higher.

As of Friday, there were six patients in hospital, but none of them in intensive care. THL will update the numbers of patients in hospital and any possible deaths on Monday.

There has only been one death in the past two weeks. That occurred on July 3, bringing the total to 329. Prior to that, there were single fatalities on June 11, 14, 22 and 26, for a total of five in the past month. In comparison, an average of 16 people died in traffic accidents during each of the first five months of this year.

10.7 18:47 30,000 furloughed workers had no access to unemployment fund

Almost 30,000 workers, who were temporarily laid off from their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic, were unable to claim earnings-related unemployment benefits, leading Centre Party chair Katri Kulmuni to call for a reform of Finland's income-linked unemployment benefits system.

10.7 17:36 School and daycare closures had little effect, THL says

The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) revealed in a statement on Friday that the closing of schools and daycares in the spring had minimal impact on the number of confirmed coronavirus cases among children and young adults.

Read more here.

10.7 16:20 Coronavirus cases fall even as testing increases

The number of lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in Finland continues to drop, despite a recent increase in the number of tests being carried out due to a spike in summer flu infections.

10.7 14:10 Update tax card as soon as possible, authority advises

The Finnish Tax Administration has advised people to update their tax cards in good time to avoid any nasty surprises later, especially if their income has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

There is more on this story here.

10.7 13:20 Six new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported six new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. The new infections bring the total number of cases to 7,279. The death toll now stands at 329. Information on hospitalisations and fatalities is now updated three times weekly, on Mondays. Wednesdays and Fridays.

9.7 17:50 Ministry makes €100m protective equipment order

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has submitted a tender proposal to Finland's National Emergency Supply Agency (Nesa) for protective equipment worth approximately 100 million euros.

The order will include 3.2 million surgical mouth and nose protectors and 9.5 million FFP3 or FFP2 respirators.

9.7 15:25 No new coronavirus cases for two weeks in 16 hospital districts

The coronavirus situation in Finland remains calm, according to the weekly report produced by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland (THL). No new cases were reported in 16 of Finland's 20 hospital districts over a two-week period.

There are currently a total of 19 patients in hospital, two of whom are in intensive care. The number of patients in hospital has fallen markedly from April and May, but has levelled off in recent weeks.

8.7 20:58 Finland lifts travel restrictions on several other countries

Travel restrictions between Finland and several European and non-EU countries will be officially lifted starting 13 July, government announced at a press conference on Wednesday. Entry restrictions will be lifted at the borders between Finland and the following countries — Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Greece, Malta, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Switzerland, Liechtenstein.

Travel restrictions will also be lifted on certain countries outside the EU and Europe. Work-related and essential travel between Finland and Algeria, Australia, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China will be permitted. Read the full story here.

8.7 15:31 Pandemic pushes talks on gov't job creation plan to year end

Initial discussions on a government plan to create 30,000 new jobs have been pushed to the end of the year, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday. The discussions were originally scheduled to take place during government budget discussions in September. The job creation plan is part of the government’s target to reach a 75-percent employment level. The coronavirus crisis has now postponed the negotiations to the end of the year. Read more here.

8.7 15:25 Average age of Covid patients falling

The public health agency THL said that the average age of infected persons has been declining, falling from 45 in April, to 41 in May and 39 in June. It added that in June, new cases were diagnosed mainly in young and working age adults. Although overall men and women have been equally affected by the disease, the THL said that last month there were twice as many 20-29 year-old men infected as women of the same age.

8.7 13:36 Roughly 100 conscripts begin military service in quarantine

Around 100 conscripts in Finland have begun their military service in quarantine due to the coronavirus epidemic. They have been placed in isolation at home or in separate facilities at army garrisons. So far 90 coronavirus tests have been administered to conscripts with mild respiratory symptoms. All of the test results have been negative to date, however some test results are still pending. Read the full story here.

8.7 12:50 Three new Covid-19 cases identified

Finland reported three new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The new diagnoses bring the total number of coronavirus cases in Finland to 7,265.

8.7 11:24 Poll: Coronavirus boosts regard for science, experts

More than 60 percent of people in Finland have said that they believe that science and expertise will be more important following the coronavirus crisis, according to a new survey by the Finnish Innovation Fund, Sitra. Read more about the survey results here.

7.7 20:25 Finnair flew 96% fewer passengers in June than last year

National air carrier Finnair is still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In June, Finnair carried 96 percent fewer passengers than in the corresponding period last year. However, the numbers — a total of 55,200 passengers — more than doubled from May 2020, Finnair said in a release on Tuesday. No scheduled flights were flown to Asia in June, and only one scheduled flight was flown to North America, the airline said. Read more about it here.

7.7 18:03 Pandemic disrupts international students' study plans in Finland

International students who secured study spots in Finland this autumn face the difficult choice of either cancelling their studies, starting their courses online or deferring studies by an entire year due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 700 student residence permits are currently pending in Finland, according to Finnish Immigration Service, Migri. Most Finnish embassies worldwide are closed due to the global pandemic, so students cannot complete the identification process which involves collecting biometric data such as fingerprints and photographs. Read more here.

7.7 15:55 Pandemic measures tougher than expected on Finnish economy

Finland's economic growth next year will be the slowest in the EU, according to an EU Commission economic forecast released on Tuesday. The economic impact of measures taken to limit the coronavirus pandemic and the slow rollback of restrictions has been more severe than expected, according to the Commission’s executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis. The forecast predicts that the Finnish economy will shrink by 6.3 percent this year to grow by just 2.8 percent next year. Read more here.

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Nuori nainen käyttää maksupäätettä torilla.
The European Commission says that Finland's post-pandemic economic growth would be driven by domestic spending. Image: Yle

7.7 14:15 Five new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland confirmed five new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, according to the finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, bringing the overall total to 7,262. The number of patients receiving hospital care was said to be 18 on Monday, with one person in intensive care. The death toll stands at 329. Fatalities and hospitalisations will next be updated on Wednesday.

6.7 15:35 Passengers exposed to virus on Tallinn cruise

Passengers who travelled on a short cruise to Tallinn aboard Silja Line's Europa vessel last week may have been exposed to Covid-19. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, said in a statement on Monday that health officials have confirmed that several persons onboard later tested positive for novel coronavirus. Read more about it here.

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Risteilyalus Europa
A number of passengers were exposed to an individual with mild symptoms on board the vessel. Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

6.7 12:17 Four new Covid-19 cases in Finland

Finland reported four new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The total number of infections in Finland now stands at 7,257. The death toll from the disease is 329.

6.7 10:40 Asylum seeker minors to be quarantined

A group of 25 children will be the first unaccompanied minors to arrive in Finland from refugee camps in Greece this week. The youngsters are the first of a total of 175 asylum seeker minors from the Mediterranean whom Finland agreed to accept last autumn. The coronavirus epidemic will affect the young asylum seekers, who will be quarantined for two weeks upon arrival. They will be allowed to spend time outdoors on reception centre compounds, but will be forbidden from using public transportation or going to the stores. Read the full story here.

5.7 15:25 Ministry pledges student loan relief

The ministry of education and culture has said that it is pushing reforms to the Student Aid Act to provide refunds to persons with student loans whose graduation was delayed by the coronavirus epidemic. As a result of the delay, students will not be eligible for a student loan refund as they did not graduate on schedule.

The partial state of emergency introduced to delay the spread of the disease caused the cancellation of contact teaching as well as internships. Students in the hospitality and health care sectors were affected most. However current legislation does not allow for student loan refunds. The ministry said that it hopes the legislative change to take effect from the beginning of next year.

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kaksi ravintolatyöntekijää työssään
Students studying in the hospitality and health care sectors were especially hard hit by the graduation delays. Image: AOP

5.7 15:10 Finland confirms five new Covid-19 cases

Finland reported five new lab-confirmed novel coronavirus cases on Sunday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, bringing the running total to 7,253.

The death toll from the disease stands at 329. On Friday the number of patients receiving hospital treatment was 20, with none in intensive care. The THL has begun updating information on fatalities and hospitalisations three times weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

4.7 18:30 Niinistö: Border closure aimed against virus, not Sweden

President Sauli Niinistö says that Finland's decision not to re-open its borders to Swedes is not aimed against Sweden, but against the coronavirus. He made the comment in an interview with the Swedish news agency TT.

The president told Swedish reporters that he does not foresee any long-term harm to ties between the Nordic neighbours. Read more at this link.

4.7 13:40 Six new infections in Finland

Six new coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Finland, the national health agency THL said on Saturday. That brings the official total of lab-confirmed cases to 7,248, although officials say the actual number is likely to be many times that. Nine out of 10 patients have recovered.

THL will update the numbers of patients in hospital and any possible deaths on Monday. Since the pandemic situation has eased in Finland, authorities are only making such announcements three times a week rather than daily.

On Friday the THL reported the first death in a week, bringing the total to 329. There have been no patients in intensive care units this week.

3.7 17:40 Turku hospital begins Covid-19 drug trial

Turku University Hospital said on Friday that it is launching a study of a drug to treat Covid-19 patients with severe symptoms.

The drug, tocilizumab, is normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. There is evidence suggesting the medication could help treat the inflammatory nature of coronavirus infections.

For more details, click here.

Blog continues after photo

Suojavarustukseen pukeutunut hoitaja ottaa näytettä koronaepäillyltä potilaalta.
A nurse at Turku University Hospital takes a sample from a Covid-19 patient. Image: Roni Lehti / Lehtikuva

3.7 16:37 Baltic Sea passenger shipping lines cut staff

More than 300 Finns are losing their jobs at two Baltic Sea passenger shipping lines.

The shipping line Eckerö is shutting down its Birka Cruises subsidiary. For nearly half a century, it has sailed between Stockholm, Sweden and Mariehamn in the Åland Islands. More than 500 people will be made redundant, about half of them Finns.

Rival Tallink Silja Line also announced job cuts on Friday. The Swedish subsidiary of the Estonian-owned firm Tallink, known as Tallink Silja Sverige, will let go of 299 employees, 69 of them Finns. Both firms cited the pandemic as the primary reason for the decisions. More here.

2.7 19:50 Russian tourists eager to return, but will likely have to wait

Hotels in eastern Finland report an upsurge in attempted bookings by Russian tourists for late July.

There has apparently been a misconception that the Finnish-Russian border will reopen on 15 July. Restrictions on travel over the Finnish-Russian border are scheduled to remain in effect until at least 14 July. No decisions have yet been made on extending or ending the restrictions.

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo says tourism to and from Russia will be among the last sectors to be allowed to reopen, as the pandemic situation is much worse in Russia than Finland. You can read more about it here.

2.7 13:23 Finland sees 5 new confirmed infections Thursday

Five new lab-confirmed coronavirus were detected in Finland on Thursday, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The increase brought the country's total number of Covid-19 cases to 7,241. There have been no deaths in nearly a week, since last Friday.

2.7 9:40 Covid and immigrant communities

There is evidence from across the world that the pandemic has hit ethnic minority groups and low-income people much harder than others. Helsingin Sanomat's editorial page on Thursday takes a stand on the question of migrant communities and coronavirus. Read more about this and other stories in our press review.

Read previous updates here.

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