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Coronavirus updates 29.7 - 23.8

23.8 19:14 Berry pickers travelled through Finland by train, exposing others to Covid-19

On Friday 14 August, four foreign berry pickers arrived at Helsinki Airport and immediately headed to Northern Finland on different trains. The following day, one of them was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection but by then had exposed an unknown number of other people to the illness. More details here.

23.8 18:16 New Migri director foresees post-corona wave of asylum seekers

The new head of the Immigration Service sees pent-up pressure to enter the EU from Mediterranean countries. Jari Kähkönen predicts that after the pandemic has subsided, Europe will again see a wave of migration.

"In certain countries, in the Mediterranean region for instance, there is pressure to come to Europe. That could erupt when the pandemic is over. And if travel within Europe becomes easier, of course that will also be reflected in the number of applicants here," he says. More in our article here.

23.8 12:43 Nearly twice as many new cases in past fortnight than previous

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said on Sunday that 14 more cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in the past 24 hours. The tally of laboratory-confirmed cases has risen to 7,920, though the actual number of cases is considerably higher.

In the past two weeks, there have been nearly 340 confirmed new cases, 145 more than during the preceding fortnight.

As of Friday, there were 11 patients in hospital, none of them in intensive care, and a death toll of 334 since the first was announced five months ago on 21 March.

22.8 19:38 Finnish economy fared best in EU during corona spring

Based on Eurostat figures, Finland's economy fared the best of any in the EU last spring, with seasonally adjusted GDP falling by just 3.2 percent in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter.

On average, EU countries’ GDP plunged by 11.7 percent between the first and second quarters of this year. Neighbouring Sweden, which took a more relaxed approach to the pandemic and suffered much higher infection and death rates, saw its economy fall by 8.6 percent in the same period.

Meanwhile a majority of Finnish economists polled by Yle said that they do not believe the economy will slow further this year, or may even improve. Find out more here.

22.8 17:51 Officials to pull sub-standard masks from market

Many of the face masks and respirators on sale in Finland do not meet legal standards, officials warn. In some cases, masks have forged labelling concerning their usage and protection level, according to the Regional State Administrative Agencies (Avi). Avi is placing temporary sales bans on some substandard products. More details here.

22.8 12:59 Eighth case traced to Irish pub in Vaasa

The THL said on Saturday that 35 new coronavirus infections had been confirmed in Finland since Friday. That brings official total of lab-confirmed cases to just over 7,900.

The latest figures include an eighth case linked to The Old Irish Pub in the west-coast city of Vaasa, which was closed by authorities on Wednesday, and will remain shut through next Tuesday.

As of Friday, there were 11 patients in Finnish hospitals, none of them in intensive care. The death toll stood at 334. It has risen by five since the beginning of August, with the most recent reported on Monday. The THL is to update these totals on Monday.

21.8 19:23 Tampere to open a drive-in Covid-19 testing point

In an aim to boost coronavirus testing capacity, a large-scale drive-in test centre will open up in the city of Tampere on 31 August. The testing will take place in the hall of the Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre. The aim is to be able to carry out up to one thousand tests per day and keep the centre open seven days a week, the organisers said.

Read more on this here.

21.8 18:28 Helsinki may end publication of localised infection statistics

Since spring, the City of Helsinki has published figures on the spread of coronavirus using a heatmap that tracks infection rates broken down by postal code areas. But city officials are now weighing whether to end such data breakdowns, saying that tracking the figures that way may not accurately reflect what's really taking place. Factors like varying population density of postal codes and small sample sizes don't make for an accurate comparison, they said.

Read more here.

21.8 16:19 Low-income families seek help from charities

The household incomes of about 100,000 Finnish children fell below the poverty line during the coronavirus spring and many families face a shortage of food and clothing, according to a recent report by the Central Union for Child Welfare. Hope, a charitable organisation that offers aid to low-income families with children said it is experiencing the busiest late-summer season in its history.

Read the full story here.

21.8 12:46 THL reports 29 new confirmed infections

Finland reported 29 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Friday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The new cases bring the total number of infections to 7,871.

21.8 12:40 Corona crisis may disrupt Finland's Independence Day gala plans

The President's Office is examining alternative ways to hold the President's Finland's Independence Day reception in December, although solid plans have not yet been made. The office said details about the event will be explained "once they have been specified," based on the development of the coronavirus situation. More on that story here.

21.8 9:27 Recent case uptick not comparable to situation in spring, paper reports

The country's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, writes that although the number of coronavirus infections has increased in recent weeks, the situation in Finland is currently not even close to the worst levels of the epidemic last spring. Our daily press review also found articles about children’s coronavirus testing guidelines, cancelled book fairs and the end of warm summer weather. Read the whole review here.

20.8 20:55 Coronavirus found in wastewater across Finland

Coronavirus has been detected in the wastewater of several Finnish cities, including Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and Vaasa. The Finnish institute for Health and Welfare (THL) carries out regular tests on wastewater as it can help the health agency to predict spikes in infections.

Read more on this story here.

20.8 20:11 Sharp drop in the price of face masks

Improved supply and increased competition among retailers has led to the price of face masks falling in Finland, in some stores by as much as 50 percent.

There is more on this story here.

20.8 19:13 Second mass exposure at Linnanmäki amusement park

There has been a second incidence of mass exposure to coronavirus at Finland's biggest amusement park, Linnanmäki in Helsinki, after a group who visited the venue on 11 August have since been diagnosed with the virus.

There is more on this story here, as city officials advise anyone who was at the park at the same time as the group to closely monitor their health status.

20.8 18:05 APN Podcast discusses Finland's spike in infections

This week's All Points North podcast takes a look at the escalating cases due to international travel, quarantine guidelines and the huge burden on Finland's testing capacity, among other topics.

You can read more here or listen to the podcast via 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.

20.8 16:09 Lab company: One-day test turnaround won't be easy

Finland's largest laboratory company Fimlab has said achieving the objectives of the newly-announced testing strategy will be very challenging.

Read more on this story here.

20.8 12:51 THL reports 37 new confirmed COVID infections

Finland reported 37 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Thursday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The new cases bring the total number of infections to 7,842.

20.8 12:39 Corona crisis sinks Viking Line's half-year results

Finnish shipping company Viking Line revealed just how hard its business was hit by the coronavirus crisis in its half-year financial report, issued Thursday. The company's turnover during this past January-June was less than half than during the same period the year before, or about 97.5 million euros, compared to 227 million euros in the first half of 2019.

20.8 9:39 A closer look at Finland's updated border check policy

Border checks will be reintroduced for travellers from Iceland, Greece, Malta, Germany, Norway and Denmark which are all part of the Schengen area. Travellers from Cyprus, Ireland, San Marino and Japan will also be subject to the new rules. Those guidelines go into effect on Monday, and tabloid newspaper Iltalehti looked at how they will work in practice. Read Thursday's press review here.

19.8 20:18 Finland plans to increase testing capacity

Minister for Basic Services and Health Krista Kiuru has announced a new testing strategy which will see Finland's capacity increase from 14,000 tests per day to 20,000. The objective is to ensure that tests can be taken within 24 hours of being booked, and the results made available a further 24 hours later.

There is more on this story here.

19.8 18:38 Public asked to take care when disposing of used masks

Erja Mäkelä, a senior expert at the Institute of Occupational Health, has reminded people to be careful when discarding used masks, as pictures emerged on Wednesday of bins in the city of Tampere overflowing with disposable protective devices.

19.8 17:35 Masks used for work and commuting to be tax deductible

The Finnish Tax Administration has announced the updating of its policy on the use of face masks in workplaces and on commutes between work and home, in a reversal of its earlier position.

19.8 14:21 Tour operators cancel Greek package holidays as restrictions return

Tour operators in Finland have cancelled trips to Greece until at least 7 September after the Finnish government announced it would recommend people avoid travel to nine countries, Greece included, and self-isolate if they arrive from those countries.

Read more on this story here.

19.8 13:18 PM Marin tests negative for coronavirus

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin has tested negative for coronavirus, after announcing on Tuesday that she would move to remote working after developing mild respiratory symptoms. There is more on this story here.

19.8 10:05 Finland brings back border checks for some travellers

Finland announced tightened restrictions on travel from several countries on Wednesday, as the country stuck to its line of changing the rules based on coronavirus infection rates in other states. The government's current policy is that border checks can be relaxed if a country records fewer than eight infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two weeks. Travellers from nine countries will be checked at the border. Find a list of those countries, along with more on this story here.

19.8 8:15 Tegnell's Finnish lessons

Today's paper review includes an interview with Sweden's point man on the pandemic, and a look at the impact of texting backlogs on the workforce.

You can read it here.

18.8 19:22 Finland temporarily restricts sales of paracetamol and dexamethasone

The sale of medications containing paracetamol and dexamethasone will be temporarily restricted in Finland in order to ensure adequate supply of the drugs in the event a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic arrives, according to the ministry of social affairs and health.

Sales restrictions of the medications - both of which are used to treat Covid-19 in different situations - were to begin immediately and remain in place until January 15, 2021, the ministry said on Tuesday. Read more here.

18.8. 14:00 FMI: Air quality improved during state of emergency

The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) says traffic pollution fell in Finland this past spring during the period of emergency measures.

Transport emissions in some urban areas, particularly oxides of nitrogen, decreased by as much as 60 percent.

This period also saw less street dust which can cause problems for people suffering from asthma or other respiratory conditions. Air quality improvements were, however, short-lived with emissions now mostly back at pre-pandemic levels.

18.8 12:40 24 new Covid-19 cases in Finland

Finland reported 24 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The new cases bring the total number of infections to 7,776. The death toll from the disease stands at 334, with five patients currently receiving hospital treatment.

18.8 10:40 PM Marin reports respiratory symptoms, moves to telecommuting

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) announced via her official Twitter account on Tuesday morning that she will be taking a coronavirus test and reverting to telecommuting after developing mild respiratory symptoms.

This is the premier's fourth time to get tested for the virus.

18.8 9:32 Papers say something has to give

Domestic media outlets on Tuesday explore the public healthcare system's inability to keep up with testing demand. Difficult access to public testing is driving some families to private testing centres--often at a hefty cost.

Read our full round-up here.

18.8 06:40 Helsinki Airport turning away more travellers due to coronavirus restrictions

Sixty-eight travellers arriving in Finland were turned away at Helsinki Airport last week, up from seven during the previous week, according to border officials.

Most of those turned away had attempted to gain tourist entry into Finland from Schengen states still facing travel restrictions.

17.8 20:35 Minister: Restrictions should take border city's unique situation into account

As government and health officials work on coming coronavirus-related restrictions, the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, Krista Kiuru (SDP), said that the special situation in the northern border city of Tornio will be taken into account.

Every day, around 10,000 people cross the Finnish-Swedish border in Tornio, hundreds of whom are employed on both sides of the border. Read more on this here.

17.8 20:00 South Savo hospital district advises against singing in schools

Due to increased coronavirus infection risks caused by singing, the South Savo Social and Health Care Authority (Essote) has issued a recommendation to suspend group singing activities at schools and early education institutions in the region for the next two weeks. Read more here.

17.8 18:22 Online pushback prompts S-Group to clarify employee face mask policy

Retail and services cooperative S-Group announced that staff members are able to use protective face masks if they wish to do so, according to a press release which aimed to clarify the company's policy on the matter. Read more here.

17.8 16:55 Two Covid cases detected in tests at Helsinki Airport

Two passengers arriving at Helsinki Airport were confirmed to have Covid-19 following testing, according to the City of Vantaa, which is in charge of a coronavirus testing effort at the airport.

The mass testing of some passengers arriving at Helsinki Airport began a little more than a week ago. So far, individuals arriving on three separate flights from Bucharest, Romania underwent testing, according to the city.

Tests carried out on passengers from the first aircraft did not reveal any cases of Covid-19 but two positive cases of the viral disease were found on the second flight. Testing of 90 individuals arriving on a third airliner were carried out on Friday but the results of those samples have not yet been confirmed, the city said.

As of Sunday, 16 August, the airport had tested a total of 587 arriving passengers from so-called high-risk countries, where infection rates exceed eight per 100,000 over the period of the previous two weeks. So far, the results of 321 tests revealed five confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to the city.

17.8 16:36 Minister to recommend suspending flights to Skopje

Transport and Communications Minister Timo Harakka (SDP) said on Monday that he will propose the suspension of flights to Finland from Skopje in North Macedonia at a meeting of government ministers on Tuesday. Harakka’s proposed recommendation follows dozens of positive coronavirus tests among passengers arriving from that destination. Earlier on Monday, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) said that government had discussed the possibility of suspending flight connections with Skopje but noted that she did not think that border restrictions would be the best option. Read more here.

17.8 13:56 Helsinki bans after-hours club sports at dozens of school gyms until 2021

Helsinki has suspended the use of city-owned sporting facilities and gyms used for club practice sessions at 39 schools. City officials said that due to the coronavirus crisis, early years education providers and schools will be needing their gym facilities for teaching purposes. The situation is expected to last from 31 August until the end of May next year. Several other cities plan to keep gyms open.

Read more here.

17.8 13:01 Interior Minister: Suspending flights from Skopje "not the best option"

Government has discussed the possible suspension of flight connections with Skopje in Macedonia following positive coronavirus tests among arriving passengers, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) said on Monday.

More on this story here.

17.8 11:58 21 new Covid-19 cases in Finland

Finland reported 21 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. Monday's cases bring the total count so far to 7,752. Five people were receiving hospital treatment as of Monday, while one additional death was reported. (Updated with hospital, death info)

17.8 11:13 Crisis prompts younger workers to seek out unemployment funds

Finland's largest unemployment fund, YTK, has seen twice as many new members join this year compared to last year and a shift towards a younger membership. YTK said it received around 60,000 applications from new members up until the end of July, while the same period last year saw 37,000 new applications. Workers in Finland must be a member of such a fund to be eligible to receive income-linked unemployment benefits. This year many workers furloughed because of the coronavirus crisis missed out on the enhanced benefit because they did not belong to a fund. Read the full story here.

17.8 11:02 Customers at Vaasa pub test positive for virus

At least three people who visited The Old Irish Pub in Vaasa on the evening of 8 August have tested positive for Covid-19, according to city officials. The infected persons are currently confined to their homes. City health officials said that they have contacted the majority of people who may have been exposed to infection and have placed them in quarantine.

Others who may have been present at the time the Covid-positive patrons were at the pub are being asked to contact their local health centres and to get tested if they have experienced any symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, fever or throat pain in recent weeks.

17.8 09:23 Papers ponder potential vaccine

Helsingin Sanomat's Monday paper says Finland may acquire one or more potential coronavirus vaccines, explaining that the government has committed to procuring a range of vaccines against Covid-19 that the EU is currently negotiating with vaccine manufacturers. Health ministry director Päivi Sillanaukee told HS that once there is a viable vaccine, front line healthcare workers and risk groups will most likely be prioritised to be first in line for the jab. Read a summary of the HS report and other morning news in our weekday newspaper roundup.

17.8 06:41 Pupils and staff at Helsinki elementary school exposed to coronavirus

Thirty-two people (19 pupils and 13 staff members) have been placed under quarantine at Herttoniemenrannan ala-aste following exposure to coronavirus, Helsinki city reported on Sunday evening.

Officials said quarantined children would revert to remote learning while other pupils would return to school as usual on Monday.

The school in the eastern suburb serves some 520 pupils.

16.8 17:20 Coronavirus expected to hike payment defaults

Financial insecurity resulting from the coronavirus crisis could cause an increase in payment defaults in Finland, according to credit data company Asiakastieto. The firm said however that there would likely be a delay before new default entries come to light. For example it said furloughed workers might begin to default on their bills if they become unemployed. According to Asiakastieto about 390,000 people in Finland have defaulted on their bills. That number has been rising for the past 10 years. Read the full story here.

16.8 16:43 Several people exposed to virus at Helsinki bar

Several people were exposed to Covid-19 after an individual who visited popular Helsinki nightspot Kaivohuone on the evening of Saturday, 8 August between 10pm and 3am tested positive for the disease, the city of Helsinki said on Sunday.

City officials said that they contacted and quarantined fewer than 10 people exposed to infection due to close contact with the diagnosed person. The quarantined persons will be monitored until 22 August. Others who were at the bar at the time have been urged to monitor their health and to get a coronavirus test if they experience even mild symptoms. Daily Helsingin Sanomat reported that 850 were at the bar on the evening in question. (Updated)

16.8 16:10 Helsinki offers Covid tests at Vuosaari harbour

Passengers arriving from Germany at eastern Helsinki’s Vuosaari harbour were offered the option of voluntary coronavirus testing on Sunday. Altogether a total of 65 vehicle ferry berths representing 127 passengers had the option of taking the test. Forty-six of them opted to submit a sample for testing.

The city said that from Monday it would also launch a health counselling station at the West Harbour terminal. Plans are also afoot to open similar advisory points at the Olympia terminal, the Katajanokka terminal and Vuosaari’s Hansa terminal.

The health counselling stations will not offer coronavirus tests, but will direct passengers with Covid-19 symptoms to locations in Helsinki where they can provide samples for testing.

16.8 14:40 Experts recommend automated diagnostics to boost testing capacity

An automated diagnostic centre could rapidly boost coronavirus testing capacity in Finland by thousands of tests, according to experts from the Helsinki University hospital district (HUS) and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The specialists said that one automated diagnostic centre would be able to analyse more than 10,000 tests per day. Currently the HUS lab processes roughly 4,000 samples daily. Nationwide about 13,000 tests are analysed daily, while the number of tests samples collected has been around 6,000 per day. They said that a diagnostic centre currently operating Denmark can process up to 20,000 samples every day. Read the full story here.

16.8 12:37 Remote learning recommendation for Helsinki's matriculation candidates

Helsinki city officials are calling on upper secondary schools to provide at least two weeks of distance learning before students take their matriculation exams. The city is hoping that keeping students out of school prior to the tests will ensure that they are not disrupted by coronavirus. The exam season for students planning to graduate next year will begin early, with the first tests scheduled for as early as 14 September. Read more about the recommendation here.

16.8 12:30 11 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported 11 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Sunday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The new cases bring the total number of infections to 7,731. The death toll from the disease stands at 333, with six patients currently receiving hospital treatment.

15.8 17:40 Covid-era holiday travel driving a wedge between Finns

A decision by some people to holiday abroad following the easing of travel restrictions has sharply divided people into two camps: those who did right by staying in Finland, and "selfish" people who chose to holiday overseas, according to respondents to an informal Yle poll.

However one crisis psychologist says the ordeal caused by the coronavirus-driven state of emergency and an uncertain future overshadowed by an invisible threat may be responsible for the social discord over travelling abroad. Read more about the debate here.

15.8 14:20 Finland considering home sampling for Covid

Finnish public health officials are currently looking into the possibility of allowing people who suspect they have been infected with Covid-19 to take test samples at home. THL specialist Niina Ikonen said samples collected at home would be one way to break down bottlenecks that have recently accumulated in some areas. She said home samples could be saliva or sputum, a mixture of saliva and mucus coughed up from the respiratory tract. Ikonen added that researchers are currently investigating international experiences with home sampling. She noted however that testing and diagnosing samples would continue to be performed by licensed clinical laboratories. Read the full story here.

15.8 14:06 Pop-up testing station to open in Vantaa

The Helsinki University hospital district HUS said on Friday that it was rolling out a new no-appointment testing station in Vantaa’s Varisto district next week. Similar drive-through pop-up stations are planned elsewhere in Vantaa as well as in neighbouring Espoo.

Meanwhile an additional testing point opened earlier this week in eastern Helsinki’s Itäkeskus in collaboration with private health care provider Tapiola while another is planned for Espoo’s Tapiola district. Those centres will require appointments for customers to give samples for testing.

HUS has reported bottlenecks in testing and the new sampling points are intended to ease the congestion. HUS officials said that the average time for turning around test results from labs has stretched to 72 hours instead of the targetted 48 hours.

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Kuvassa on suojavarusteisiin pukeutunut hoitaja.
Finnish public health officials are looking for ways to break up testing bottlenecks. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

15.8 13:01 20 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported 20 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Saturday, according to the finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, bringing the overall case count to 7,720.

This week infections peaked on Thursday, when 41 cases were confirmed. However the numbers have hovered on either side of 20 after falling to single digits earlier in the summer. As of Friday, the death toll from the epidemic stood at 333, with six patients in hospital. Fatalities and hospitalisations will next be updated on Monday.

15.8 11:52 Big supermarkets pass on masks for customers

Finland’s major food retailers say they are unlikely to recommend that consumers use face masks in their stores, according to an Yle call round to duopolists Kesko Group and S-Group as well as German chain Lidl. According to the Finnish Commerce Federation, masks are not required in supermarkets, since safety measures adopted during the spring have proven to be effective. Stores have kept Covid-19 at bay by enforcing safety distances, facilitating hand hygiene and by installing protective plexiglass shields at chekout stations, it noted. Read the full story here.

14.8 18:59 Infections among young adults on the rise in Helsinki

There has been a spike in the number of young adults, aged 20-39, being diagnosed with coronavirus in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS). Read more on this story here.

14.8 16:12 Commuters react positively to mask recommendation

Commuters in the Helsinki region reacted positively to THL's recommendation to wear masks on public transport, as both the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority and Finland's national rail carrier VR said they would not monitor the wearing of masks on their services. There is more on this story here.

14.8 16:04 Private healthcare outfit Pihlajalinna: Profit drop due to corona crisis

Finnish private healthcare firm Pihlajalinna noted a decrease of 11.6 percent in revenue in its half-year financial report on Friday.

The company said that customer demand for services - including at its health and dental clinics - dropped significantly as the crisis and its accompanying restrictions brought the country to a near-standstill.

However, CEO Joni Aaltonen said the firm was able to mitigate the business impact of declining demand caused by the crisis.

"The coronavirus epidemic and the related restrictions reduced customer flows the most in Pihlajalinna’s fitness centres, private clinics and dental clinics. Well over half of Pihlajalinna’s business volume remained stable in spite of the coronavirus epidemic. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare considers it possible that Finland will see a second wave of the epidemic, which creates continued business uncertainty for the remainder of the year," Aaltonen said in a statement.

The firm said that it had withdrawn its 2020 financial outlook which it issued in February, noting that it was difficult to predict the financial impact which the coronavirus epidemic would have on its operations.

14.8 14:53 Government unveils 'traffic light' system for travellers

Finland's government has asked the country's health agency THL to devise a 'traffic light system' to help clarify travel restrictions facing travellers returning from different countries. The traffic light colours of red, yellow and green would indicate country risk levels.

There is more on this story here.

14.8 14:09 THL: 17 new coronavirus cases since Thursday

Latest figures from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) show that there have been 17 new lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus diagnosed in Finland since Thursday, bringing the total figure to 7,700.

14.8 13:22 Finland's GDP fell by nearly 5% during corona spring

Finland's working-day adjusted GDP was down 4.9 percent in April to June this year, compared to the same period last year. One economist attributed the Q2 decline to a decrease in exports and weak development in the services sector, but added that Finland is showing early signs of making an economic recovery. More on this story here.

14.8 12:20 Shipbuilder lets go of 166 workers in Turku

Citing a slowdown due to the coronavirus crisis, shipbuilding company Meyer-Turku has confirmed that it will permanently lay off 166 workers at its facility in Turku. More on this story here.

14.8 9:35 Newspapers ask "who will pay for face masks?"

Among other topics, newspapers in Finland examined how those on low incomes will be able to afford face masks, which the government and health officials have recommended be used when social distancing is not possible. Read the review here.

13.8 20:20 Podcast discussion on mask recommendation

This week's podcast takes a look at the mask guidance issued on Thursday, along with the choice of languages in Finnish schools and an item on tree hugging.

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

13.8 20:15 Mask discussion rumbles on

The cost of face masks has been a key part of the wrangling over a broader face mask mandate, and now the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) has weighed in. They say that face masks should be tax deductible, but the Finnish tax man says that's not currently on the cards. Meanwhile, retailers report that shelves have emptied as the mask recommendation has moved closer. Our story is here.

13.8 16:35 Back to school and hobbies as Finland rolls out mask guidelines

This week the All Points North podcast examines primary school language learning options, injury risks in kids’ sports, tree hugging as well as newly-issued face mask recommendations.

Find our show here or subscribe to All Points North wherever you get your podcasts.

13.8 15:45 Mask, telecommuting recommendations on regional basis

The Finnish government has announced it will now recommend that people use face masks in confined spaces where social distancing is not possible, including public transport in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in the country. Read more on this story here.

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Emmi Tenkula käytti kasvomaskia bussissa ensimmäisenä suosituspäivänä 14. elokuuta.
Tampere student Emmi Tenkula wore a face mask on public transport, as recommended, on Friday 14 August. Image: Miikka Varila / Yle

13.8 13:53 THL: 41 new cases diagnosed on Thursday

According to the latest figures provided by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), there have been 41 new cases of coronavirus diagnosed in Finland since Wednesday. There are also currently seven people in hospital, one of whom is in intensive care.

13.8 13:10 Surge in coronavirus testing of children

Over the past week, one in four tests at Fimlab testing points have been carried out on children under the age of 10, while one in three have been on people aged under 20. More details on that story, here.

13.8 12:09 Disputes between neighbours on the rise

Finland's Community Mediation Centre has reported a significant increase in requests to help resolve disputes between neighbours, as people spend more time time at home due to the coronavirus crisis. Read more on this story here.

13.8 9:29 Press review: New measures to rein in coronavirus

Finland's papers are dominated by coronavirus topics on Thursday morning, with discussion over mandatory quarantining and testing, anger at the Swedish border, and how the pandemic is pushing Finland ever closer to becoming a cashless society.

Read our round up here.

12.8 21:01 Finland's state agencies stockpile masks ahead of recommendation

Finland's Tax Administration and benefits agency Kela have pre-ordered hundreds of thousands of masks ahead of an expected recommendation by THL on the use of face coverings in public places on Thursday. Read more here.

12.8 17:18 Finnair cutting European and domestic routes

Finland's national airline Finnair announced on Wednesday that it is cutting back some international and domestic routes due to the drop in demand caused by the coronavirus crisis, but will add flights to a number of cities in Lapland.

There is more on this story here.

12.8 15:42 University of Eastern Finland issues mask guidelines

The University of Eastern Finland has rolled out a mask recommendation for students and personnel that takes effect immediately. The institution is recommending that masks be used in working and teaching situations where it is not possible to make arrangements for safe distancing or where it is not possible for people to maintain a safe distance from others. Read more here.

12.8 12:51 Calls for awareness of long-term effects

Hundreds of people in Finland have signed a petition calling on decision makers to fund research probing the after-effects of Covid-19.

Covid patients say long-term symptoms of coronavirus include shortness of breath, limb numbness, muscle cramps, dry cough and general fatigue. A Facebook peer support group for sufferers has attracted 2,500 members so far.

Read more here.

12.8 12:12 Thousands still await ticket refunds from cancelled events

Ticket reimbursements usually take up to a week in Finland, but due to mass cancellations delays have stretched up to two months.

More on this story here.

12.8 9:30 Quarantines and compensation featured in Wednesday's papers

The second wave of the epidemic's possible impact on national and personal finances dominated Finland's headlines on Wednesday morning. Read our press review here.

11.8 19:51 Face mask sales spike as national guidelines are anticipated

Following a surge in sales of face masks in Finland, retail cooperative S-Group has said it plans to limit sales of the personal protective gear to prevent hoarding of the protective gear.

On Tuesday, the ministry of social affairs and health's permanent secretary, Kirsi Varhila, said that public health agency THL plans to hold a press conference on Thursday which would include recommendations regarding the use of face masks by the general public.

Read more here.

11.8 18:02 Covid testing queues grow in Helsinki region

Individuals seeking coronavirus tests in the Helsinki region may have to wait up to three days for an appointment, with a possible further delay of another three to four days to learn of their results, local health officials have confirmed.

The backlog is mainly due to a shortage of healthcare workers in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS), as well as issues related to the non-automation of services, according to the district. Read more here.

11.8 16:25 Ninety out of 100 passengers arriving from Romania agree to Covid tests

About 90 out of just over 100 passengers arriving at Helsinki Airport on a flight from Romania agreed voluntarily to be tested for Covid-19, the City of Vantaa's deputy mayor Timo Aronkytö said, according to news service STT.

Due to a high infection rate in Romania, Finnish health authorities have listed the eastern European nation as a high-risk country.

On Monday, Finnish authorities said that going forward, individuals arriving in Finland from countries with high infection rates would be required to quarantine under penalty of law, adding that Covid testing may also become obligatory in some cases.

On Saturday it was reported that passengers arriving on a Romanian Blue Air flight were directed to take coronavirus tests at Helsinki Airport on Friday evening. However only 60 of the more than 100 passengers took the free test.

11.8 14:57 Russians with partners in Finland can now cross eastern border

The Finnish Border Guard says Russians with significant others in Finland can once again enter the country. Finnish authorities said they don't discern whether couples are married or not or if relationships are primarily long distance in nature.

Travel between Finland and Russia has mainly been at a standstill since March.

11.8 14:41 South Savo prepares to issue own face mask guidelines

Following in Turku's footsteps, the South Savo social and healthcare authority (Essote) says it will issue regional face mask guidelines unless public health watchdog THL publishes recommendations on personal protective equipment (PPE) very soon.

More on this here.

11.8 13:06 Corona testing backed up in capital region

Yle reports that people seeking coronavirus tests in the capital area may have to wait up to three days for an appointment and another three to four days to learn their results. The backlog is mainly due to a shortage of healthcare workers in the hospital district.

11.8 12:54 More than two dozen healthcare workers quarantined

Twenty-six healthcare workers of the Päijät-Häme Welfare Consortium were quarantined on Monday after being exposed to a patient diagnosed with coronavirus.

Staff did not adequately protect themselves because the infected patient's symptoms were not considered corona-related.

Read more here.

11.8 11:58 Finland's coronavirus tracing app unveiled to media

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) presented the coronavirus smartphone application for tracing infections after the app was trialled in the cities of Helsinki and Tampere last week.

There is more on this story here.

11.8 9:29 Papers: Finland prepares 2021 budget amid corona uncertainty

The government's coalition partners are gearing up to discuss next year's budget, with rising uncertainty and disagreement among the parties over revenue and expenditure estimates.

You can read more on this story, and others, from our Tuesday morning paper round-up.

10.8 21:25 Finland mandates quarantine for arrivals from high-risk countries

In order to prevent the spread of new coronavirus infections, individuals arriving to Finland from countries with high infection rates will be required to quarantine under penalty of law, Minister for Basic Services and Health, Krista Kiuru (SDP), said at a joint conference on Monday evening.

The announcement was made on the same day news emerged that a large number of passengers who arrived on a flight from Skopje, Northern Macedonia on Saturday in Turku, Southwest Finland, were confirmed to have coronavirus infections. On Monday evening, the City of Turku's welfare department director Riitta Liuksa confirmed that 24 of the 157 passengers on the flight from Skopje had coronavirus infections.

Read more here.

10.8 18:00 Paper: Several Covid-19 cases confirmed among passengers from Skopje

The City of Turku’s Health Care Division and Turku University Hospital (Tyks) announced on Monday that several passengers had tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving at the city over the weekend on a flight from the North Macedonian city of Skopje.

According to a report (in Finnish) in the Turun Sanomat newspaper, there were 157 passengers on an aircraft which landed at Turku airport on Saturday, and that all of the passengers agreed to be tested for Covid-19. Read more here.

10.8 15:42 Uncertainty over school guidelines as classes begin this week

As students return to classrooms across Finland this week, uncertainty remains regarding official guidelines on how teaching should be organised in the current coronavirus situation. The Finnish National Agency for Education issued its own coronavirus guidelines at the end of June, but the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Ministry of Education only published their own recommendations last week. Read more here.

10.8 15:35 Finland reports two new Covid deaths

There were two coronavirus-related deaths recorded on Monday, bringing the country's Covid-19 death toll to 333, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare THL.

The health agency said that a total five patients were receiving hospital care for treatment of Covid-19, an increase of two since Friday, when the statistics were last reported. One of the patients included in THL's announcement on Monday was in an intensive care unit, while on Friday there were no patients on ICU wards.

Hospital districts across the country report Covid-related data on matters such as deaths and hospital occupancy three times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

10.8 12:10 Employers don't need to provide face masks for commuters

Employees in Finland should not expect employers to cover the cost of face masks worn on public transit to and from work. Legal experts told Yle workers must foot the bill for their commutes--including any potential face coverings--but could the state subsidise personal protective equipment (PPE)?

More on this story here.

10.8 9:26 Schools preparing to reopen this week

One school principal told Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet that "half our day will be spent washing hands", as schools across Finland prepare to reopen their doors again this week after the summer break.

Read more on this story and others in Monday morning's paper review.

9.8 18:46 Festivals scrubbed due to rise in infections

Several more events were cancelled on Sunday as coronavirus infection rates begin to rise again after a summer lull. A pop festival in Porvoo, a hard rock event in Jyväskylä and a stunt-car show in Kajaani have been scrapped amid concerns over a Covid-19 resurgence. All three were scheduled for next weekend. Details here.

9.8 13:05 THL tightens quarantine rules, all passengers from Skopje tested

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has tightened its travel and quarantine guidelines.

Mika Salminen, the agency's director of health security, says it has become clear that despite the recommendations, people have been travelling to areas where the pandemic situation is significantly worse than in Finland and ignored the quarantine guidelines.

Meanwhile all 150 passengers on a flight arriving in Turku from Skopje, North Macedonia, agreed to undergo testing on Saturday evening. Passengers were told that if they did not agree to a test, they would be placed under monitored quarantine.

More on these developments here.

8.8 17:39 Union calls for new telework legislation

Finland's longest-serving labour minister, Tarja Filatov, has welcomed a union's call for legislation to ensure some workers' right to work remotely whenever feasible.

"During the coronavirus pandemic, many Finns have become accustomed to working remotely. I consider it reasonable that remote work be encouraged even after the coronavirus is finally defeated. It's appropriate to look into how we could support employees' opportunities for remote work through legislative reform," Filatov told the Finnish news agency STT on Saturday. Read more here.

8.8 12:35 Passengers from Bucharest tested on arrival at Helsinki Airport

A planeful of passengers arriving on a Romanian Blue Air flight were directed to take free coronavirus tests at Helsinki Airport on Friday evening. The aircraft brought more than 100 people from Bucharest.

Pekka Tulokas, head of the Preparedness Unit at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, said at the airport that such testing will be done as needed from now on.

Tulokas later said that only 60 of just over 100 passengers had been tested. Some said they had been tested within the past few days. Tulokas said that in future such tests may become mandatory.

Read more here.

7.8 21:10 81 exposed at party in Estonia

Dozens of Finns were exposed to coronavirus at a private event held in Estonia last weekend, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Friday. Most have returned to Finland. The participants have been contacted and most of them have been placed under quarantine as a precaution.

Passengers who travelled from Tallinn to Helsinki by ship in early August may have also been exposed. More details here.

7.8 17:36 Turku recommends wearing face masks

The southwestern city of Turku has issued guidelines about the use of face masks on public transportation, making it the first city in Finland to do so.

The city suggested that passengers wear face masks on buses when they are crowded and it is not possible to keep adequate safe distances from other riders.

More details here.

7.8 16:41 50 quarantined in Espoo after two infection risks

Fifty people in Espoo have received instructions to self quarantine after it was confirmed that a home care worker and an individual who had been inside a daycare centre had Covid-19 infections, according to the city. The cases were unrelated. You can read more here.

7.8 12:53 Finland confirms 22 new cases Friday

On Friday Finland reported 22 new confirmed Covid-19 cases since the previous day, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare THL. On Thursday, the institute reported 29 new cases. The vast majority of confirmed cases reported Friday were detected in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district. Friday's figures brought the country's total number of Covid cases to 7,554.

7.8. 12:23 Nine ways Finland plans to prevent a second wave

Top health officials have laid out a series of measures that are currently being worked on, or are being considered in Finland that they hope will prevent the rise of a second wave of the coronavirus. More on that here.

7.8 9:32 Press review: Travel, tracing and Thais

Newspapers report that a large number of new coronavirus infections in the capital region can be traced to international travel. Read Friday's newspaper roundup here.

6.8 19:18 Helsinki to set up new testing points, mayors ask for mask policy

New coronavirus testing points will be set up in the city, Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori announced on Thursday. The move is part of a raft of measures being taken to deal with the coronavirus situation in the capital. "Although the situation is well under control in Helsinki and Finland, we need to be mentally prepared for the situation to worsen quickly," Vapaavuori said.

The mayors of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, and other key players met on Thursday and took a stance in favour of a clear mask recommendation in a press release.

Read more here.

6.8 15:58 APN podcast: Finland mulls over masks amid Covid case count creep

As the national Covid-19 case count shows signs of climbing, Finnish public health officials announced a targeted approach to possible face mask guidelines at a press conference on Thursday. This week All Points North delves into the background for the proposed mask recommendations and what they could possibly contain.

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

6.8 15:50 Travel restrictions reinstated on Belgium, Netherlands and Andorra

Government has announced it will reintroduce restrictions on travellers returning from the Netherlands, Belgium and Andorra as of Monday, 8 August. In all three countries, the number of coronavirus cases has increased since restrictions were initially lifted on 13 July.

The government had said that border controls can be waived only if less than eight cases have been detected per 100,000 people in 14 days. The situation will be reviewed every two weeks.

Read more here.

6.8 12:18 Health officials: Mask recommendation may be on regional basis

Kirsi Varhila, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, said on Thursday morning that the government would consider possible changes to restrictions on travel and other sectors later in the day.

As to face masks, Varhila said that current law does not allow authorities to order their use, but that she is sure there will be a recommendation to do so. She said that authorities are still considering when that would take effect, and whether it would be national or regional.

More details here.

5.8 20:38 International travel prompts uptick in cases

Health officials in Finland have noted an increase in confirmed coronavirus infections during July, following the relaxation of government-implemented restrictions over the summer. The number of confirmed cases rose during the second half of July in some areas, but physicians were hesitant to confirm whether the country was beginning to see a second wave of the epidemic. Read our story here.

5.8 14:10 Yle: Big variations in workplace mask practices

New guidelines in the works by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, will likely require mask use in public spaces and public transportation to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19. However employers are waiting to see how the imminent recommendations will affect their everyday operations.

Yle noticed major differences in firms' workplace mask policies, with employees supplying their own masks in some instances, while in other cases, firms moved early on to mandate mask use. Read more about the straw poll here.

5.8 13:10 29 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland confirmed 29 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The running total of cases is now 7,512. No new deaths were reported on Wednesday, while six people were said to be in hospital, no patients were warded in intensive care units.

5.8 9:08 Media focus on rising coronavirus case count

Finland's coronavirus case count is slowly increasing, and fears of a second wave of the epidemic are growing. Ilta-Sanomat warned that Helsinki University hospital district official Eeva Ruotsalainen reckons the rise is a concern, and showed a graphic indicating that the prevalence of Covid-19 in the capital city region had quadrupled in four weeks over the summer.

Helsingin Sanomat and Iltalehti both carry lengthy interviews with Health Minister Krista Kiuru asking how she plans to tackle the situation. Read more about Wednesday's newspaper roundup here.

4.8 18:48 Greater Helsinki region burdened with spike in coronavirus tests

Demand for novel coronavirus tests in the capital region last week was one of the highest of the summer, according to the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district's (HUS) interim chief medical officer, Jarkko Pajarinen.

The increase in testing has caused delays of several days. However the district is planning to open new testing queues, one of which is a drive-in facility in Espoo. Read more here.

4.8 15:53 THL to issue recommendation on mask use on Thursday

A recommendation on the use of face masks will be issued on Thursday, according to Markku Tervahauta, Director General of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. On Sunday, a leading official from THL, Mika Salminen, told Yle that the agency could recommend the wearing of face masks in public spaces and on public transport this week.

According to Tervahauta, such an announcement has been delayed because the agency and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health are still finalising the contents of the recommendation.

4.8 15:40 Two new deaths, 17 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Two people have died from the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll from the pandemic to 331, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. Finland also reported 17 new novel coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the running total to 7,483.

The Uusimaa region has the highest number of infections — a total of 5,454. Of the cities, Helsinki has the highest number of infections at 2,793. So far, 919 infections have been diagnosed in Vantaa, 856 in Espoo, 218 in Turku and 142 in Tampere.

4.8 13:15 Schools prepare for coronavirus closures in autumn term

The start of the school year next week means a return to contact teaching, but schools are preparing for a worsening of the coronavirus situation. "We are starting the autumn in a situation where the coronavirus situation is calm, but the threat of the virus is not over," said Olli-Pekka Heinonen of the National Board of Education at a press conference on Tuesday.

Heinonen said there could be school closures in the autumn, as the coronavirus situation develops, but only if they are absolutely necessary to control the virus. Read the full story here.

4.8 9:31 Newspaper asks for clarity on masks

There has been much debate on the detail of Finland's forthcoming face mask recommendation, and evening tabloid Ilta-Sanomat continued the discussion on Tuesday. An editorial in the tabloid asked what could be done to ensure compliance, how poorer families will be able to afford their masks, and whether Finland needs to expand testing to cover asymptomatic people who suspect they were exposed to Covid-19.

You can read our press review here.

Blog continues after photo

Kertakäyttömaski henkilön kasvoilla.
Photo of woman securing a single-use surgical face mask. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

3.8 20:17 Helsinki confirms coronavirus case at Finland's biggest amusement park

A group who visited Helsinki's Linnanmäki amusement park late last month may have exposed others to the novel coronavirus, according to an announcement from the city of Helsinki on Monday. The group in question visited the park on Sunday 26 July, roughly between the hours of 3-6pm. Read more here.

3.8 18:26 Youth unemployment count swells by 50,000 during corona crisis

The coronavirus crisis has cut employment by more than 50,000 among young people, according to fresh data. New figures from Statistics Finland indicate that in June this year there were 31,000 fewer 15 to 24-year-olds in jobs than in June last year. The corresponding figure for people in the 25 to 34-year-old age group was 24,000. Read more here.

3.8 16:40 Thai workers set to salvage Finland's wild berry harvest

Arrangements for Thai workers to pick berries in Finland this season were threatened by the coronavirus crisis as well as drawn-out legal disputes concerning weighty issues like human trafficking and employee protection laws. The Finnish government recently decided to allow 3,000 Thai migrant workers to come pick wild berries. Then, just over a week ago, officials in Thailand - with strict stipulations - gave their permission for the arrangement. One of the country's three largest berry firms said those decisions will help it survive the season virtually unscathed financially. Read the story here.

3.8 13:55 Helsinki Airport opens coronavirus test point

Passengers arriving from abroad to Helsinki's international airport are now being given the opportunity to get tested for the novel coronavirus. Not all passengers are to be tested. However, any arriving passengers with symptoms suggesting a coronavirus infection or travellers who suspect that they have been infected will referred to a health counselling and testing station opened at Helsinki's international airport. Read more here.

3.8 12:54 13 new coronvirus cases in Finland

Finland reported 13 new novel coronavirus cases on Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The newly-reported infections bring the running total to 7,466. The death toll from the disease remains unchanged so far at 329.

3.8 12:30 Contact tracing app pilot begins

Finland will begin trialling a new coronavirus contact tracing app from Tuesday according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL.

The agency said in a statement that a few dozen pilot users will include workers from the Pirkanmaa Hospital District as well as from the City of Helsinki. Other trial users will include personnel from the THL as well as benefits agency Kela and developers from IT firm Solita and the state-owned SoteDigi. Read more about the pilot here.

3.8 11:12 Tallink Silja halts cruises from Sweden

Shipping company Tallink Silja said on Monday that it planned to temporarily suspend ticket sales for trips between Stockholm and Turku on the Baltic Princess. The decision means that customers will not be able to depart on cruises from Stockholm.

The firm based its decision on travel restrictions still in place between Finland and Sweden over the coronavirus situation. Read more on that story here. Updated on 4.8 to indicate that Tallink Silja has suspended cruises departing from Stockholm.

3.8 9:26 Dailies cover traveler testing and safety, new mask recommendation

Tabloid daily Iltalehti reports Monday morning that the director general of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Markku Tervahauta has confirmed that a face mask recommendation will come into force next week, in a bid to combat a possible second wave of coronavirus infections.

Meanwhile, Jyväskylä daily Keskisuomalainen reminds readers that as of Monday, passengers can get a coronavirus test at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. National rail company VR is also focusing on passenger safety by offering passengers the option of booking an entire compartment, in addition to reserving individual seats. Read the full morning news roundup here.

2.8 16:55 THL set to change course on face masks

Finland's health agency could be about to change its mind on recommending widespread use of face masks. THL's Mika Salminen told Yle on Sunday that he will meet his colleagues early next to discuss the issue. Our story is here.

2.8 12:41 Experts urge vigilance as restrictions ease

Finland is now allowing larger events to take place, and is no longer recommending people work from home if they can. As schools reopen after the holidays, there is concern that Finland may see new clusters of coronavirus cases -- but experts say if people follow hygiene guidelines and get tested even when they have mild symptoms, a second spike could be kept in check.

Our story is here.

1.8 14:15 Vaccine researchers aim for 2021 release

Finnish researchers working on a vaccine are to start testing their product in the coming days. It won't be ready till 2021, but could still play an important role in fighting the pandemic. Our story is here.

31.7 18:32 Research group says "face masks work", criticises ministry report

A Finnish research team has criticised a report commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in May which had concluded that widespread use of face masks have little or no effect on reducing the spread of upper respiratory infections.

The research group's new study used the same data that the ministry reviewed in its report to observe significant benefits in wearing face masks to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Using a face mask can reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections by about a third, the study found. Read the full story here.

31.7 17:00 PM Marin warns of second wave risk as restrictions end

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) took to Twitter on Friday afternoon to remind people that there is a risk the coronavirus crisis could re-escalate in Finland. Marin's reminder comes as the government’s restriction on large public gatherings and the recommendation to work from home if possible both end today. Marin added that restrictions might be reintroduced if a second wave of the virus hits Finland. Read more here.

31.7 14:43 Real estate market recovers after spring slump

The number of real estate transactions of old homes in housing companies was the same in June 2020 as it was during the corresponding period last year, but almost 30 per cent more than in May, according to Statistics Finland’s preliminary data.

The prices of old dwellings in housing companies rose by just under one per cent in Greater Helsinki region compared to June 2019. Elsewhere in the country, prices fell by four per cent. Meanwhile, prices for new accommodation rose in the second quarter of 2020. Read the full story here.

31.7 14:40 Nine new coronavirus infections detected

The National Institute for Health and Welfare, the THL on Friday reported nine new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed infections in Finland to 7,432.

30.7 20:31 APN podcast: Is it time to mask up?

This week's All Points North podcast looks at the debate around coronavirus restrictions in Finland. As the country allows bigger gatherings indoors, some experts have been asking people to start using face masks. We also consider getting out into the great outdoors, and the challenge of travelling to Finland if you're a foreign student.

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

30.7 20:25 Top doc warns over big events

The first festival of the Finnish summer is Sunfest, which takes place in the south-western town of Naantali on Friday and Saturday and is expected to draw thousands of people -- even though one top doctor says that maybe large events should still be banned.

Our story about Sunfest, Aura Fest, and the doctor who thinks maybe we shouldn't all rush to festivals, is here.

30.7 18:00 Daycare centres to take strict line

This autumn it could be more difficult than usual to persuade daycare teachers your child is healthy enough to attend nursery. Even a negative test result might not be enough. Our story is here.

30.7 13:51 Infection rate remains stable, says health ministry

The coronavirus infection rate remains steady in Finland, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said on Thursday. It says that 51 new cases have been confirmed in the past week, the same weekly total as in late June.

The largest numbers of new lab-confirmed cases were in the Helsinki-Uusimaa and southwest Finland hospital districts. Of the country's 21 healthcare districts, 14 have reported no new cases in the past week.

As of Thursday, there were 7,423 lab-confirmed infections, up by nine from a day earlier.

On Wednesday, there were four patients in hospital, none of them in intensive care. The number of deaths has held steady at 329. These latter numbers will be updated on Friday.

30.7 13:41 Majority of teleworkers glad to return to physical workplaces

As of the beginning of August, the government is lifting its recommendation of remote work for as many employees as possible.

According to an Yle survey published on Thursday, nearly 60 percent of telecommuters say they are happy to return to their physical workplaces and considered that the coronavirus situation has improved. However 23 percent said they were worried about returning to brick-and-mortar workplaces due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

29.7 20:32 Coronavirus testing to begin at Finland's ports

Finland will begin testing passengers arriving at the country's airports and seaports in the coming days.

The new measure is being cooperatively introduced by the City of Vantaa, Finland’s healthcare authorities -- the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS) -- and Finnish airports operator Finavia.

Read more on this story here.

29.7 18:23 Lifting of coronavirus restrictions leads to spike in summer flu

The rise in the number of summer flu infections in Finland over recent weeks has been partially attributed to the easing of coronavirus restrictions, which has in turn led to an increase in social interactions.

29.7 16:39 Coronavirus tracing success varies by region

There are large regional differences in how successful authorities can trace coronavirus infections in Finland. In the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS), fewer than half of those infected can tell where they became infected. Meanwhile in Lapland, almost all of the coronavirus infections detected in the region can be traced back to their origin.

There is more on this story here.

29.7 15:12 Ten new cases reported in Finland

The National Institute for Health and Welfare, the THL on Wednesday reported 10 new new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed infections up to 7,414.

29.7 13:17 Cities plan for locally-targeted restrictions

City officials are examining measures that could used on a local level to deal with a resurgence of the coronavirus. The idea is that individual cities, or even just neighbourhoods in those cities could be targeted, rather than imposing wide-sweeping restrictions on entire regions.

Read previous coronavirus updates here.

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