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Coronavirus updates 5.11-17.11

17.11 17:39 Report: Men more likely than women to test positive for Covid

Men in Finland are more likely than women to test positive for Covid-19, according to a report by the country’s largest hospital district-owned laboratory, Fimlab.

Read the whole story here.

17.11 16:15 Ministry: Long-term unemployment will surge

The coronavirus pandemic will continue to affect jobs in 2022, according to the latest labour market forecast from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, MEAE.

"The coronavirus crisis has completely changed the picture of the labour market. Above all, it has been a service sector crisis," said MEAE official Johanna Alatalo.

Read more here.

17.11 12:04 Helsinki Zoo visits down by a fifth after Covid restrictions

Visitor numbers have fallen following Korkeasaari zoo's closure earlier in the year. The zoo is expecting 100,000 fewer visitors this year.

Read our story here.

17.11 11:56 228 new Covid cases in Finland

Finland reported 228 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, according to public health agency, THL, bringing the total number of infections to 19,647.

The largest number of cases was diagnosed in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) at 154, while the Southwest Finland and Southern Ostrobothnis hospital districts reported 30 and eight new cases respectively.

17.11 10:59 No Christmas peace audience

The city of Turku on Tuesday said it would be declaring 'Christmas peace' without any onlookers this 24 December.

Finland has made its declaration of Christmas peace, officially marking the start of the festivities in a ceremony in the centre of the former capital city, Turku, for hundreds of years.

Turku Mayor Minna Arve said Brinkkala House on the city’s Old Great Square near the cathedral would be cordoned off and the event would be broadcast on TV.

The ceremony was last disrupted in 1939 during the winter war.

17.11 10:41 Finland sees first quantum computer

Could the computational power of a quantum computer be useful for developing a coronavirus vaccine? Finland has decided to invest 20 million euros in building the country's first quantum computer.

More on this story here.

17.11 9:22 Can Finland avoid Europe's Covid spike?

Domestic media on Tuesday probe whether Finland can avoid the second wave of infection sweeping the continent.

Read our domestic news roundup here.

16.11 14:16 Jobs dip in second wave

The number of job vacancies in Finland fell slightly between July and September, compared to the same period one year ago, according to fresh statistics.

Data from Statistics Finland’s Job Vacancy Survey show that there were 43,000 open positions in the job market during the third quarter of the year, compared to 48,500 at the same time last year.

More on this story here.

16.11 13:55 Lahti now in acceleration phase

Lahti has been designated as being in the acceleration phase of the coronavirus epidemic, according to Päijät-Häme health authorities. Last week the region confirmed 52 new Covid-19 infections, with 90 percent of them coming from the Lahti area. Other health districts in the region are said to be still in the latent stage. Local authorities are now recommending mask usage in public transport, while getting a corona test and awaiting test results, when arriving from high Covid-risk parts of Finland, when moving from ports of entry to quarantine and in public indoor spaces and at sports facilities where distancing is difficult or impossible.

16.11 13:13 Finland reports 104 new cases, 2 coronavirus-related deaths

Finland reported 104 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the nationwide total to 19,419 infections.

The largest increase was in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital districts, where 78 new infections were reported.

THL also reported two new deaths related to the coronavirus on Monday. There are currently 80 people in the hospital, of which 13 are in intensive care.

16.11 9:22 Papers: More seek basic social assistance

Helsingin Sanomat reports that Kela has doled out more in basic social assistance--a last resort form of welfare support--than it did during all of 2019. HS said the pandemic has led to more people in wealthy central areas of the capital seeking welfare. Read more about this story, as well as about pesticide concerns and setbacks to kids' orthodontics in Monday's paper review.

15.11 19:09 Gov't likely to keep border checks in place

Last spring, Finland was one of many EU countries that re-imposed inspections on all its borders. Now Finland is one of the few that is still checking every person entering the country.

Finland has Europe’s lowest rates of coronavirus infections and deaths, partly due to strict border checks.

Next week the government must decide whether to keep in place one of Europe’s strictest border policies. Yle has learned that the matter is to be decided on Thursday, and that the answer will likely be yes.

More details here.

14.11 13:39 Pandemic spurs record sales of holiday homes

Sales of holiday homes have risen sharply in Finland this year, with sales of those on sea or lake shores up by 40 percent from last year. Average prices for summer cottages – which are increasingly used year-round – have risen for the first time in years.

The National Land Survey predicts that the total sales of shoreline cottages this year will be 40 percent higher than last year, which was also a record year. It says sales of second homes have been spurred since last spring by the coronavirus situation, border closures and a focus on domestic travel.

Read the full story here.

14.11 12:49 This week’s case total up by 450 from last week

The THL announced 244 new Covid-19 infections on Saturday, bringing the overall tally to well over 19,000.

Nearly 3,000 new cases have been confirmed in the past fortnight, about 170 more than in the preceding two weeks. In the past week, there have been more than 1,700 new cases, which is nearly 450 more than the previous week. As before, the sharpest increases have been in the Helsinki-Uusimaa healthcare district.

As of Friday, 73 Covid patients were in hospital, 15 of them in ICUs. Four more deaths were announced on Friday, for a total of 369 since March.

13.11 20:00 Minister: No need for more restrictions on seasonal farm workers despite Covid outbreak at plant nursery

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä (Cen) says that there is no need for stricter rules on foreign seasonal workers in the agricultural industry.

A day earlier, 64 out of some 200 employees at a plant nursery in Pieksämäki, south-central Finland, tested positive for coronavirus. Most were seasonal labourers from Ukraine, Poland and Vietnam.

More details here.

13.11 15:45 Call to skip graduation, holiday parties in capital region

A capital region coronavirus working group wants residents to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people this autumn. The recommendation came during a press conference by the committee on Friday.

"This recommendation refers to graduation parties, Independence Day celebrations, pre-Christmas gatherings and other Christmastime events. It is clear that it is safest to celebrate in very small groups and preferably with family members," Vantaa mayor Ritva Viljanen said.

Full story here.

13.11 13:38 Bank of Finland issues pandemic-shadowed forecast

People in Finland are increasingly staying away from shops, leisure venues and public transport stations this autumn, Finland's central bank said on Friday. That said, a growing number of infections and restrictions in the fourth quarter are expected to particularly target service sectors in the eurozone, including Finland, according to the central bank.

Read more here.

13.11 13:17 Four more deaths announced on Friday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Friday that the death toll attributed to Covid-19 has risen by four since Wednesday. That brings the total to 369 since the first death was announced on 21 March.

Meanwhile the number of patients hospitalised with the disease went down by three since Wednesday to 73, with the number in intensive care going down by one to 15.

The THL only announces the number of fatalities and hospital patients three times a week.

13.11 12:07 Finland ponders self-service tests

Finnish health authorities say that for the moment they will rely on samples taken by professionals, but they could consider self-administered tests in the future.

Health officials in Sweden are using a self-administered coronavirus sampling kit to ease testing bottlenecks in some areas.

More on this story here.

13.11 11:54 316 new Covid cases in Finland

Finland reported 316 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The overall number of infections now stands at 18,858. The highest number of new cases was diagnosed in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS at 167. Hospital districts in South-Savo and Southwest Finland recorded 63 and 24 new infections, respectively.

13.11 9:31 Public transport Covid risk low, paper says

Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet's headline on Friday claims there is "minimal" Covid risk on public transport. The paper reported that no coronavirus cases had been traced back to local or long-distance transport, according to state railways VR and Helsinki Region Transport (HSL). Read more about this story, as well as about poor knowledge about personal pension contributions and pricey capital properties in Friday's newspaper roundup.

12.11 16:15 APN Podcast talks Covid vaccines and more

Finnish health officials say the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine could help the country return to normal starting early next year, but it's not yet time to ease up on coronavirus vigilance.

This week's All Points North podcast also explores media storms around youth crime, child welfare in Finland and more of the week's major stories.

You can listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

Blog continues after audio.

Audio: Yle

12.11 12:58 PM Marin: Europe must unite to beat coronavirus

The EU needs a common strategy on test and trace, quarantine and other areas of public health, Prime Minister Sanna wrote in an article published in the international publication Politico on Thursday.

"The only way to save our economy is by defeating the virus," Marin wrote, emphasising that Europe should rally together and adopt strong enough measures to make it happen.

12.11 12:43 Finland looking at three coronavirus vaccines

Finland is currently looking at three coronavirus vaccine options, according to public health officials speaking at a press conference on Thursday.

The national vaccination expert group (KRAR) has recommended that Finland purchase an mRNA vaccine — the same kind as the much-lauded Pfizer vaccine — an adenoviral vector vaccine and a protein-based vaccine to combat the coronavirus, according to THL senior physician Hanna Nohynek.

Read more on this and the country's current coronavirus situation here.

12.11 11:08 197 new Covid-19 cases in Finland

Finland reported 197 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, according to public health agency THL. That's a total of 2,976 infections in two weeks — 354 more than in the previous two weeks.

Speaking during a press conference on Thursday, Taneli Puumalainen, THL's head of infectious diseases and control said that health authorities have noticed a trend in which more middle-aged people are contracting the disease, while adolescents and young adults continue to account for the majority of cases.

12.11 09:40 Paper: Lapland tours cancelled

Britain's largest travel agency TUI announced this week that it would cancel all package tours from Britain and Ireland to Lapland between November and December. Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Centre) has blamed this on Finland’s delay in finalising a new travel policy that will dictate who can visit the country and on what conditions, according to daily Helsingin Sanomat.

Read more about this and other stories in our daily press review.

11.11 19:37 Helsinki budget aims to avoid deep cuts despite Covid crisis

Helsinki city council’s largest political groups, the National Coalition Party, Greens and Social Democratic Party have reached consensus on key elements of a draft budget for next year. No major spending cuts are on the table, despite the inroads made by the Covid-19 crisis into the city’s cash reserves. However decision-makers have agreed to spend less on child home care allowances, although the benefit will not be entirely eliminated. Read more details about the draft budget here.

11.11 18:37 Study explores link between sleep apnoea and Covid

People who have sleep apnoea could be at an elevated risk of suffering more severe coronavirus infections, according to a study by Turku University Central Hospital (Tyks) and the University of Turku. Analysis of data on patients admitted to hospital for Covid in Turku, showed that 29 percent of patients had a previous sleep apnoea diagnosis. Read our full story about the study here.

11.11 17:08 Epidemic fuels enthusiasm for flu jab

As the coronavirus epidemic rears its head once more this autumn, more people are opting to get vaccinated against seasonal influenza. Private healthcare provider Mehiläinen said that it had vaccinated twice as many people as in recent years. The demand for the flu jab has prompted the healthcare group to declare a temporary shortage of doses. Read more on this story here.

11.11 15:32 Two new corona-related deaths in Finland

Finland reported two new deaths linked to Covid-19 on Wednesday, according to public health agency THL. This brings the death toll from the disease to 365. Some 76 people are currently receiving hospital treatment, 16 of them in intensive care units.

11.11 14:00 Finnish retailers wishful ahead of a corona Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and following a challenging year due to the coronavirus crisis, retailers in Finland have high hopes for a holiday sales boost.

Using Statistics Finland travel data, retailing giant Kesko estimated that there will likely be 300,000 more people who stay in Finland at Christmas, meaning there's the possibility that the holiday shopping season will be brisker than usual this year. Read more here.

11.11 11:47 Finland reports 238 new cases

On Wednesday, 238 new coronavirus infections were reported, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL said. This brings the nationwide total to 18,345 cases.

In the last two weeks, Finland reported 2,967 infections — 292 more than in the previous two weeks.

The largest increase in infections was reported in the hospital districts of Helsinki and Uusimaa (143), the hospital district of Southwest Finland (33) and the hospital district of Lapland (13).

10.11 16:47 Yle: Finland rewriting travel rules

Information obtained by Yle suggests that government is considering allowing visitors from countries with up to twice as many Covid-19 infections as in Finland. The administration is said to be hustling to finalise legislation that would provide clear guidance on who can visit Finland and on what conditions. The general rule of thumb is that people can enter the country if they are coming from countries where the epidemic situation is on par with or better than in Finland. Read the full story here.

10.11 15:09 Helsinki epidemic situation "under control"

Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) on Tuesday said Covid patients in the capital had not overburdened healthcare units. HUS medical director Markku Mäkijärvi on Tuesday said the hospital district was seeing 700-800 new Covid cases a week, with around three percent of samples testing positive for the virus. Read more here.

10.11 12:00 Finland reports 220 new cases

Finland reported 220 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, bringing the running total to 18,107. The highest number of new infections were reported in the Helsinki University Hospital District as well as in the Southwest Finland and Pirkanmaa districts.

10.11 11:42 People battle loneliness during pandemic

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has increased feelings of loneliness among a quarter of working age people in Finland, public health institute THL reported on Tuesday.

More on this story here.

10.11 10:20 Paper: Covid takes toll on immigrants

Coronavirus is spreading among Finland’s immigrant populations, reports business daily Kauppalehti, citing Helsinki city officials who say nearly 30 percent of infections since the summer have been among people speaking another native language than Finnish, Swedish or Sami.

Read more about this and other stories in our daily press review.

11.9 20:25 Face mask recommendation issued for all capital area school staff

The City of Helsinki's Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group has issued a recommendation for the area's comprehensive school staff to use face masks.

In practice, the group recommended that teachers and other school staff in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen wear protective face masks and that the cities in question would provide the protective devices to personnel.

Read more here.

9.11 17:50 Finland begins coronavirus testing at dozens of mink farms

Finnish health authorities are set to carry out widespread coronavirus testing of minks at around 30 fur farms across Ostrobothnia, a region in western Finland.

The widespread testing effort was sparked following recent news of coronavirus epidemics spreading among animals at mink farms in Denmark and the Netherlands. In some cases the virus was transmitted from the animals to humans, prompting Danish health authorities to order the destruction of the industry's mink population, which numbers in the millions.

Read more here.

9.11 14:10 Finland reports one new Covid-linked death

The THL reported one further death linked to coronavirus in Finland on Monday, bringing the total count to 363.

Eighty-six people are currently being treated for the disease in hospital, 13 of whom are in intensive care.

9.11 12:00 90 new Covid-19 cases in Finland

Finland reported 90 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, bringing the running total to 17,887. The highest number of new infections was reported in the Helsinki University Hospital District, where 63 new cases were diagnosed.

9.11 09.40 Tampere sees contagion clusters

In Monday's newspaper roundup, tabloid daily Iltalehti says Tampere saw three mass exposure incidents last week. The contagion sites included a spa, theatre and restaurant. Health authorities in the Pirkanmaa region confirmed 89 new infections last week, bringing the area’s total to 804 cases. Read more in today's press digest.

8.11 THL announces 412 new cases in two days

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Sunday announced that 412 new cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed by labs over the weekend. A technical problem prevented the publication of daily figures on Saturday.

Nearly 18,000 cases of the illness have been diagnosed in Finland since late January.

7.11 15:20 No infection figures on Saturday due to glitch

The national health institute THL did not released new data on the number of infections on Saturday due to a technical problem. It said it would update the figures by Monday at the latest.

On Friday, the THL reported 266 new cases. That brought the total of laboratory-confirmed infections to nearly 17,400, up by almost 1,500 over the past week.

The death toll rose by one to 362. Nearly 70 patients were in hospital, 13 of them in intensive care units.

7.11 13:23 'Safe tourism' system could be in place by Christmas

The government is to announce next week new measures aimed at ensuring health and safety in the tourism sector. It intends to enable tourism even from countries where the coronavirus situation is poor. No details of the plan have been made public.

This weekend, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is finalising a bill aimed at the safe re-opening of Finland’s international tourism business. However it is unclear whether Parliament will have time to approve it before Christmas.

Full story here.

7.11 10:53 ECDC: Finland has by far lowest rate in EU/EEA

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) says Finland has by far the lowest coronavirus infection rate in the EU/EEA, with 51.9 cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks. On Friday it said Finland's southern neighbour Estonia has the second-lowest rate at 91.9.

Meanwhile Scandinavian neighbours Sweden and Norway have rates of 317.1 and 105.3 respectively. The only other countries with less than 200 are Latvia and Ireland.

The highest rates are in Belgium and the Czech Republic, both with over 1,500 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days.

6.11 19:24 Five tips for dealing with flu season

As the coronavirus crisis has made telecommuting the 'new normal' for many people, there is a tendency to continue working even when feeling a little under the weather. In this article, occupational health physician Miia Jansson gives five tips for how to assess your fitness for a day of telecommuting.

6.11 11:52 266 new Covid cases in Finland

Finland reported 266 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The highest number of new infections was diagnosed in the Helsinki University Hospital District, HUS.

THL also reported one further death linked to coronavirus in Finland since Wednesday, bringing the total to 362.

There are currently 68 people in hospital, 13 of whom are in intensive care.

6.11 09:26 Coronavirus checks for Finnish fur farms

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, is among the papers reporting that the Finnish Food Safety Authority will be starting intensified testing on mink farms in Ostrobothnia to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus infections.

The first phase of testing will involve 30 farms in ten different municipalities in parts of Ostrobothnia, where most of Finland's approximately 700 fur farms are located. Read more about the mink testing campaign and other headline stories in Friday's print press roundup.

5.11 20:14 Grants for village stores set to continue

State funding for village grocery shops that have been hit especially hard by the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis is set to continue, and even to be further expanded.

Read more here.

5.11 17:51 VR plans large-scale furloughs next year

Finland's state rail firm VR has announced plans to furlough, or temporarily lay-off, up to 4,000 staff members in 2021 due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis on rail travel.

There is more on this story here.

5.11 14:49 Most municipalities not planning tax increase

The majority of Finland's 310 municipalities are not planning to raise tax rates next year, according to the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, despite the economic uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more on this story here.

5.11 12:45 Finland reports 189 new infections

Finland recorded 189 new infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 17,119. The lion's share of the new infections, 118, came in the Helsinki University hospital district.

Next came South-West Finland with 20. Over the last fortnight there have been 46 fewer infections than during the preceding two weeks.

5.11 12:40 Cases on the rise

At today's coronavirus briefing, Finnish health officials sounded a note of caution. The overall situation is stable, but there is some regional variation in infection rates, and people should try to avoid close contacts even if they consider themselves healthy.

Read our story here.

5.11 11:40 Russian trade takes a hit

Finnish-Russian trade has taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce. A weaker rouble, the closure of the Finnish-Russian border to passenger traffic, and postponed Russian investments have all negatively impacted Finnish exports.

Our story is here.

5.11 9:32 Face mask advice and Christmas planning

Today's paper review includes stories on how to wear a face mask properly and what you should and should not be doing this Christmas.

Read the review here.

Previous updates available here.

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