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Coronavirus updates 29.4.2021 - 31.5.2021

31.5 19:00 Majority want to continue working remotely

Many people in Finland who had the opportunity to work or study from home during the coronavirus pandemic would like to continue doing so, at least to some extent, according to a recent European survey.

A study report issued earlier this month by Eurofound, Living, working and COVID-19, found that about 20 percent of workers in Finland would like to work remotely all the time and more than 40 percent would prefer doing so a few times a week.

Read more here.

31.5 16:32 Situation calming in Helsinki region, still serious in Kanta-Häme

The coronavirus situation in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is clearly calming as incidence rates and positive test samples are on the decline, according to the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District's Chief Physician Markku Mäkijärvi.

Meanwhile, new cases of Covid-19 continue to be diagnosed in the Kanta-Häme region, according to the region's hospital district.

Read more here.

31.5 11:57 OECD: Finnish economy bouncing back

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has forecast that the Finnish economy will reach its pre-pandemic level late this year.

However, the OECD says employment will not recover from the impact of the coronavirus crisis until the middle of next year. It estimates that Finland's GDP will grow by 2.6 percent this year and 2.7 percent next year. According to the forecast, the biggest growth impetus will come from exports, which will rise by 5.4 percent this year and by 5.7 percent next year.

31.5 11:52 THL: 56 new cases on Monday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) registered 56 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total number of infections to 92,488.

This was Finland’s lowest daily case count since last September, beating Sunday's previous record low of 63.

31.5 11:48 Younger age groups set for jab as vaccine deliveries increase

Up to 356,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines doses are scheduled to be delivered to Finland during the coming week, a significant rise from the 240,000 doses of vaccines received in the last week of May.

"This means that vaccinations will take a real leap forward. We are able to make progress with primary vaccinations despite the fact that large numbers of people are coming for booster shot appointments at the same time," Helsinki health centres medical chief Timo Lukkarinen says.

Read more on this story here.

30.5 17:15 Some 44% receive first vaccine dose

On Sunday public health institute THL said 44 percent of the population had received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.

Meanwhile, 484,000 people, or 8.7 percent of the population, are fully vaccinated.

30.5 12:35 Case count dips to last autumn's level

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 63 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the running total to 92,432 infections.

This was Finland’s lowest daily case count since last September.

The largest increase in infections was in the hospital district of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS), which recorded 35 new cases.

29.5 15:35 Close to 9% fully vaccinated

On Saturday the THL said that more than 2.4 million people, or 43.7 percent of the population, have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. Meanwhile, 477,000 people or 8.6 percent of the population are fully vaccinated.

The health institute predicts that Finland will reach the herd immunity threshold by late July.

29.5 11:52 THL reports 125 more cases on Saturday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 125 new Covid-19 diagnoses on Saturday. To date, 92,369 infections have been identified.

During the past two weeks, there have been about 400 fewer new cases than during the previous fortnight. The daily new case tally has remained below 300 for the past six weeks.

The largest increases in infections were the hospital districts of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) and Kanta-Häme, which includes Hämeenlinna.

29.5 11:44 Economy "weathered pandemic winter well"

According to Statistics Finland, the nation's economy contracted slightly in the first three months of this year. It said that GDP dipped by 0.1 percent from the previous quarter and by one percent compared to last year's corresponding figure.

While economists had expected a slight rise in GDP, most downplayed the significance of the downturn.

Handelsbanken's Chief Economist Timo Hirvonen predicted brisk growth later this year, while Danske Bank economist Jukka Appelqvist said that the figures do not fundamentally change the outlook. In his view, the economy has weathered the pandemic winter well.

Read more here.

28.5 11:46 THL: 182 cases on Friday

The Finnish institute for Health and Welfare THL has reported 182 new lab-confirmed cases on Friday. Finland's overall total number of infections now stands at 92,244.

28.5 11:41 Finns have "positive" attitude towards vaccines

A Citizens' Pulse Survey has found that 95 percent of people in Finland have a positive attitude towards coronavirus vaccines, with 90 percent of respondents saying they were sure or fairly sure that they will take the jab when offered.

Almost 94 percent of respondents aged 45-59 were in favour of taking the vaccine, while 87 percent of 30- to 44-year-olds 79 percent aged under 30 would also said they would certainly or fairly certainly take the shot.

28.5 9:27 Covid restrictions ease in Helsinki region

On Thursday the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Coronavirus Coordination Group announced that public spaces and hobby activities will be reopened to a limited extent starting from June 1.

Read more on the easing of restrictions here.

28.5 8:57 Papers: Graduation parties in the Covid era

In 2020 many high school graduation parties were cancelled because of the pandemic, but this year they are largely going ahead for the some 24,700 people graduating from upper secondary education this year — with some changes.

Helsingin Sanomat spoke to one teenager in Tampere who is planning his own celebration. It will be outdoors, in the garden at his home, and guests will arrive at specific time slots, rather than in one big group.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our review of Friday morning's papers, here

27.5 12:28 Virologist: Indian variant not major concern in Finland

A leading virologist has told Yle that people in Finland should not be overly concerned about the spread of the Indian variant of the coronavirus.

The variant was behind a serious cluster of infections in healthcare facilities in Kanta-Häme and has also contributed to the worsening epidemic situation in Central Ostrobothnia.

Read more here.

27.5 11:01 THL: 98 cases on Thursday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL has reported 98 new lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, bringing Finland's total to 91,964.

Speaking at the weekly coronavirus press briefing on Thursday morning, THL Chief Physician Otto Helve said that the number of infections found in young adults has clearly declined in recent weeks. He added that the number of patients in intensive care across the country is also dropping, down to a total of 18 on Thursday morning.

27.5 10:29 Finnish borders prepare for Euro2020 rush

Finnish health authorities are preparing for an increase in passenger numbers on the eastern border when European Football Championship games are played in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

Read more on this story here.

27.5 09:08 Thursday's papers: Bring your own pen to the polls

After advance voting for the municipal elections began on Wednesday, Tampere-based Aamulehti asked an expert what people should do to stay safe at the polling booth.

Official advice is for voters to bring their own pens to the polling booth in order to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus, the paper writes.

Pens will still be available at polling stations, with special measures taken to reduce the risk of infections.

Read more on this story and more in our paper review here.

26.5 12:22 Three new deaths, 220 cases

Health agency THL reported 220 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing Finland's total since the beginning of the pandemic to 91,964.

THL said it recorded three new Covid-related deaths on Tuesday.

26.5 9:26 India variant culprit in Kanta-Häme outbreak

Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat issued on Wednesday a follow up story about Kanta-Häme's Covid outbreak, which the country's health institute says was caused by the coronavirus variant that was first identified in India.

"The Indian variant spreads very easily. There's reason for concern. It can't be underestimated because hospital safety precautions taken to avoid the spread of other variants have not been enough now," said Sally Leskinen, chief medical officer at Kanta-Häme Hospital District.

Read more about this and other stories in our glance at Wednesday's papers.

25.5 18:09 Epidemic situation improves rapidly in Southwest Finland

The coronavirus situation in the region of Southwest Finland has continued to further improve, according to local authorities.

The coronavirus coordination group of Southwest Finland, which met on Tuesday, said that if the positive trend continues there is a possibility that the region's epidemic classification could be downgraded from the most severe "spreading phase" to the "acceleration phase" as soon as next week.

Read more here.

25.5 17:05 Government prepares €2.4 billion supplementary budget to finance vaccines, Covid recovery

The government is preparing a 2.4-billion-euro supplementary budget to be submitted to Parliament for approval on Thursday.

In the proposal, the government is setting aside a total of 111 million euros to mitigate the adverse effects of the coronavirus crisis on children and young people, especially in relation to educational needs.

Read more here.

25.5 15:42 Kanta-Häme outbreak caused by 'Indian' variant

Health agency THL has confirmed that the coronavirus variant that was first identified in India has been identified the cause of a recent outbreak of infections in the Kanta-Häme region of southern Finland.

THL said on Tuesday that it has traced the so-called Indian variant from the region's Central Hospital to other parts of the province, and that at least 80 people have been confirmed as being infected with the variant.

The agency added that the patients include a small number who have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

25.5 12:27 Finland reports 125 new cases

Health agency THL has reported 125 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing Finland's total since the beginning of the pandemic to 91,744.

24.5 18:58 Finnish firm earns US patent for Covid drug

A coronavirus drug developed by Therapeutica Borealis, a pharmaceutical firm in Turku, has been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The nasal spray contains hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, among other ingredients, which the company says are delivered in low, safe doses.

Read more about it here.

24.5 17:40 Pandemic raises holiday home prices by 20%

The summer cottage trade in Finland has remained brisk during the first part of this year, with transactions up by almost 50 percent in the January-April period compared to the start of last year.

With foreign leisure travel on hold, strong demand for domestic second homes has naturally also pushed up prices. According to the National Land Survey, the average price of cabins has risen by more than 20 percent since the beginning of last year.

Our story is here.

24.5 16:22 Finnish athletes to get jabs before Olympics

The Finnish Olympic Committee has announced that all Finnish athletes and staff travelling to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer will be vaccinated against coronavirus before departure.

In a statement, the committee said the vaccination of athletes has been agreed with Finnish authorities and there will be no additional costs for the Finnish state.

More details here.

24.5 15:49 Cautious optimism over return of live events

Sporting organisations have greeted the prospect of lifting coronavirus restrictions on live events with cautious optimism, industry leaders said.

Social Services Minister Krista Kiuru (SDP) told Yle on Friday that plans for the lifting of restrictions are ready, pending the outcome of a round of comments this week.

According to the proposals, most of the current limits on live events would be lifted. From June, large, outdoor public events could be held under certain conditions, even in areas where the virus is spreading.

Read more here.

24.5 15:06 Seven more deaths over weekend

Since Friday, seven more deaths attributed to Covid-19 have been reported in Finland, says the THL said on Monday.

A total of 939 coronavirus-related deaths have now been reported in Finland. As of Monday there were 118 people in hospital care, 22 of them in intensive care. The number of patients in hospital dropped by 18 since Friday, with the number in ICUs decreasing by six.

Meanwhile almost 2.3 million people in Finland have received their first dose of coronavirus vaccine. That is about 41.1 percent of the population.

Booster jabs have been administered to 6.8 percent of the population.

24.5 12:09 Lowest daily infection tally since September: 93

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Monday that 93 new coronavirus infections had been diagnosed in Finland. The daily tally has not been below 100 since late September, but has remained under 300 since mid-April. Daily totals tend to be lower on weekends and Mondays.

A total of 91,619 infections have been diagnosed since early 2020.

The highest number of new infections was recorded in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), where there were 48 new infections. Helsinki had the highest number of new infections among larger cities, was in, where there were 31.

During the past two weeks, there have been about 190 fewer new cases than during the previous fortnight.

24.5 9:15 Monday's papers: Can Helsinki city centre bounce back from Covid?

Maaseudun Tulevaisuus reports on an interview with Stockmann CEO Jari Latvanen, who told the paper the city's Aleksanterinkatu shopping street had been withered by the impact of lockdowns and remote working.

The Stockmann boss called on politicians to change transport policies, claiming that customers needed to travel by car as well as public transport.

"Accessibility must be ensured. It cannot be based on just one mode of transport. We each have the right to choose how to travel, be it by bus, scooter or car," he said.

On the plus side, Latvanen told the paper that electric bikes and other outdoor leisure equipment now sell "like hot cakes" as the pandemic changes people's habits.

Read more on this story and more here.

23.5 14:08 41% vaccinated once

Health officials on Sunday reported that 41 percent of the population had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Some 6.8 percent of residents are fully vaccinated after receiving two vaccine doses.

23.5 12:58 Finland records 121 new cases

Public health institute THL on Sunday reported 121 new coronavirus cases, bringing the running tally to 91,526 infections.

The highest number of new cases was again in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), which reported 65 infections.

22.5 15:57 Särkänniemi theme park reopens

The Tampere adventure park opened on Saturday at reduced capacity. The park said visitors would need to pre-book spots or buy tickets in advance to secure entry. Särkänniemi is the first amusement park to reopen since the pandemic.

Linnanmäki in Helsinki is set to open on 4 June.

22.5 13:26 More than 40% vaccinated once

Health officials on Saturday reported that 40.7 percent of the population had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Fully vaccinated individuals accounted for 6.6 percent of the population, or 366,856 people.

22.5 12:10 Finland records 248 new cases

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 248 new coronavirus infections on Saturday. That brings the running tally to over 91,405 infections.

The highest number of new infections was again in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), which reported 117.

Kanta-Häme had 35 new cases while the southwest, including Turku, reported 28.

21.5 17:03 Norway opens border with Finland

The Norwegian government has announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions, including regulations on travel to the country from regions of Finland with low incidence rates of the virus.

Read more on this story here.

21.5 14:28 EU reaches agreement on Covid passport

The European Union has reached an agreement on Covid certificates designed to open up tourism across the bloc.

The EU’s digital Covid pass is expected to launch on 1 July and will be a QR code on a smartphone or paper.

Read more on this story here.

21.5 12:55 Hockey celebrations trigger infections, exposure

An outbreak of coronavirus infections and chains of exposure in Rauma have been linked to a local ice hockey team's championship win.

Lukko won the championship series earlier this month for the first time since 1963, sparking jubilant scenes of celebration on the streets of the west coast city.

Read more here.

21.5 11:54 THL: 211 new cases since Thursday

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Friday that 211 new infections had been diagnosed in Finland. That brings the running tally to over 91,000 infections since January 2020.

The highest number of new infections was again in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), which reported 82.

Kanta-Häme, which includes Hämeenlinna, had 28 new cases while the Southwest, including Turku, reported 21.

21.5 11:26 No passenger trains to Russia for Euro2020

Finnish state rail operator VR will not open passenger train traffic to Russia during the men's Euro2020 football championship owing to the coronavirus situation.

VR's Allegro trains run to Russia via the Vainikkala border station in Lappeenranta, which remains closed to passenger trains.

VR is however preparing to transport the Finnish national team to St. Petersburg on a private train.

More details here.

21.5 11:05 Pandemic reduced emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions shrank by nine percent last year from 2019, according to Statistics Finland, which said reduced traffic contributed to the decrease.

In addition to the exceptional circumstances triggered by the coronavirus crisis, a milder-than-usual winter and cyclical industrial fluctuations also impacted emission levels.

More on this story here.

20.5 16:09 APN Podcast: Crowds during Covid

This week's All Points North podcast asked why events are lagging behind bars and pubs in the return to a post-Covid normal. HJK Helsinki CEO Aki Riihilahti told APN that it's difficult for football people to understand this different treatment.

"You can have six people in the stadium of 11,000 people," Riihilahti said. "Which makes the safe distance between spectators 92 metres, outside, wearing a mask. I think we are the safest place in the world at the moment for not having Covid."

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

20.5 15:49 Ministry: Summer Covid situation won't be as peaceful as last year

The Covid situation has deteriorated rapidly in some areas in the past week, and hospitalisations are on the rise again, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), which held their weekly joint press conference on Thursday.

For an in-depth look at what they said read our story here.

20.5 11:50 Ministry: 259 new cases, R-value still at or below 1

According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the two-week incidence rate is now 51.7 per 100,000 residents. The incidence in the preceding fortnight was 54.

The basic reproduction number (also known as the R-value or R0) is currently estimated to be between 0.8 and 1.0, suggesting that epidemic is still declining. If the R0 is less than one, each existing infection causes less than one new infection.

Last week, about 40 percent of infections were found in people who were in quarantine at the time of detection.

Regional differences are however large and variations rapid, so an extended quiet period does not mean that the risk of infection has disappeared, ministry officials warned.

20.5 9:25 Finland responds to EU's Covid passport plans

The EU is launching a "Digital Green Certificate" for travel intended to provide proof that a person has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, received a negative test result or recovered from Covid-19. It will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format and carry a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate.

Meanwhile, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat looks at a claim made by SDP party leader and Prime Minister Sanna Marin during an online debate the paper organised between the PM and Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho.

During that exchange, Marin argued that the coronavirus pandemic is the result of "climate change and loss of biodiversity, among other things”. According to Marin, "pandemics like this are reaching people with a whole new force" because of human impact on the environment.

Read more about these and other stories in Thursday's newspaper review.

19.5 18:35 EU talks on 'Covid passport' set to continue

Negotiations between EU countries over the introduction of a coronavirus 'passport' that would permit travel between member states are set to continue on Thursday after no agreement was reached on Wednesday.

Questions such as whether vaccinated people should avoid quarantine when traveling to another EU country and whether member states should offer free coronavirus tests at border crossings are being considered by the EU Council, the EU Commission and the EU Parliament.

19.5 16:48 Finnish university develops "10-minute" Covid test

A rapid antigen-based test developed at the University of Helsinki could be used to process up to 500 samples per hour, the project's researchers said in a university statement issued on Wednesday.

The rapid tests, which can also be used to quickly check for other respiratory illnesses, are also said to be able to identify the presence of coronavirus almost as accurately as sensitive PCR tests carried out in laboratories.

There is more on this story here.

19.5 14:58 Double testing, vaccines for seasonal workers

Under new rules, every farm that hires seasonal workers in Finland this summer must have a health safety plan and a health contact person.

Read more on this story here.

19.5 12:04 THL: 289 new cases on Wednesday

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 289 new coronavirus infections in Finland over the past 24 hours, bringing the country's overall Covid case total to 90,687.

19.5 12:00 Ward outbreak disrupts operations at Päijät-Häme Central Hospital

An outbreak of Covid-19 cases has taken place at the Päijät-Häme Central Hospital, according to the local health care consortium Päijät-Sote.

As of Wednesday, two patients and one staff member at the hospital's internal medicine ward have tested positive for the disease. All of the ward's staff and patients have all undergone Covid tests once.

Forty patients and a dozen staff members have been ordered into quarantine.

The infection's source has been provisionally identified, but contact tracing is still ongoing.

The consortium said no new patients were being admitted to the ward for the time being and that the situation has caused significant disruption to the hospital's regular functions.

The facility's operations are expected to be reduced until the end of next week, Päijät-Sote said.

19.5 11:09 Finland holding off using J&J Covid vaccine

Finland has postponed the use of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 jab in its national vaccination programme.

The country already ordered millions of doses of the vaccine, which was approved by EU regulators in March.

But, like the AstraZeneca jab, J&J is an adenoviral vector vaccine linked to rare blood clot risks in a relatively small number of recipients.

Read more here.

19.5 9:14 THL: Get jabs in own municipality, not holiday homes

Jyväskylä's Keskisuomalainen is among the papers reporting that with the summer holiday season approaching, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has issued an advisory that both doses of the coronavirus vaccine should be taken in one's home community.

Read more about this and other stories in Wednesday's newspaper review.

18.5 17:56 Virus situation "critical" in Kanta-Häme, chief doc says

The coronavirus situation in the Kanta-Häme region is critical, according to Sally Leskinen, the Kanta-Häme Hospital District's chief physician.

"The incidence rate for the past two weeks is 76 cases per 100,000 people and 3.7 percent of Fimlab's coronavirus tests are positive. The case growth rate is remarkably high," she said.

The chief physician added that the situation was being exacerbated by a significant amount of the so-called UK coronavirus variant in new cases. The variant is known to be more easily transmissible despite the use of protective measures.

The region of Kanta-Häme, located in south-west Finland, is home to around 171,000 residents.

18.5 16:41 Finland approves EU Covid recovery package

Finland has secured the required two-thirds majority in parliament to approve the EU's 750-billion-euro Covid stimulus package, in a contentious vote preceded by a days-long filibuster by the eurosceptic Finns Party.

On Tuesday afternoon MPs voted 134-57 to approve the package with two abstentions and six MPs absent.

Read more here.

18.5 15:47 Calculation change prompts THL to reduce death toll by four

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has reported that one hospital district in Finland refined its coronavirus-related death calculations and reduced the country's overall death toll by four.

In light of the change, Finland's Covid death toll stood at 929 as of Tuesday, according to the institute.

THL also reported there were 137 people receiving hospital treatment for Covid, 25 of whom in intensive care on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, 38.3 percent of Finland's population have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, or more than 2.13 million people. Approximately 5.2 percent of the population, or 290,001 people, have received both doses of the vaccine.

18.5 11:58 Finland reports 149 new cases

THL has recorded 149 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing Finland's total to 90,398.

The highest number of new infections were diagnosed in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district, with 56 new cases.

18.5 11:02 THL changes quarantine policy for exposure incidents

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL has announced slight changes to quarantine practices for people exposed to coronavirus who have received at least one vaccine dose as well as those who have recovered from the virus.

Under the updated regulations, a person exposed to coronavirus will no longer be required to quarantine if:

- they have received two doses of the vaccine and a week has passed since the second dose,

- they have received a single dose of vaccine within 6 months of being diagnosed with a coronavirus infection and at least one week has passed since the vaccination,

- they have a medical certificate stating that they have been diagnosed with a coronavirus infection within the previous six months.

An infectious diseases doctor may also assess the matter differently and order the patient to quarantine, THL added.

18.5 10:44 Parliament set to vote on EU stimulus package

Finland's Parliament is scheduled to vote on whether or not to accept the EU's Covid stimulus package at a plenary session at 2pm on Tuesday. Approval of the package will require a two-thirds majority, so the governing parties will need support from the opposition.

As the stimulus package requires the agreement of all EU member states, roll-out of the recovery across the union will depend the outcome of Finland's decision.

18.5 10:12 Yle sources: Finland to delay border reopening

Finland's government is planning to postpone plans, announced in April, to permit work-related travel within the EU in May and to relax controls at internal borders during the month of June, according to Yle sources.

Read more on this story here.

18.5 9:09 Papers: Finns have high confidence in vaccines

Turku's Turun Sanomat carries a review of a poll on Tuesday morning which indicates that over 80 percent of people in Finland consider the benefits of coronavirus vaccines to outweigh any possible negative effects.

Commissioned by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA the poll also found that older respondents had the most confidence in the jabs.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our review of Tuesday morning's papers, here.

17.5 17:18 Helsinki opens up vaccines to 40-44 age set

The City of Helsinki has announced it will begin offering coronavirus vaccines to people between the ages of 40-44 (born during the years 1977-1981) starting on Tuesday, 18 May.

To book a vaccination appointment in Helsinki, residents can head to the city's reservation website bookcovidvaccine.fi or call 09 310 46300.

Read more here.

17.5 15:06 Finland reports 2 new virus-related deaths

There were two further coronavirus-related fatalities recorded in Finland on Monday, bringing the country's overall Covid death toll to 933, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The number of people requiring hospital treatment for coronavirus infections increased by a figure of 10 since Friday, THL said.

As of Monday, there were 132 patients in hospitals for Covid, 27 of whom were receiving intensive care. The number of patients in intensive care units decreased by one since Friday, THL reported.

Meanwhile, more than 2.1 million people in Finland have received their first of two coronavirus vaccine doses as of Monday, which is 37.9 percent of the population.

Nearly 281,000 people, or about 5.1 percent of the population, had received both vaccine jabs as of Monday, according to the institute.

17.5 11:40 THL: 144 new cases on Monday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL has reported 144 new lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus on Monday.

The total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic now stands at 90,249.

17.5 9:31 Papers: Helsinki gradually getting back to normal

Iltalehti carries a story on the rolling back of Covid restrictions in the Helsinki region from Monday. In Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen the ban on competition in children's sports (that is, games and matches against other clubs) was rolled back.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our paper review, here.

16.5 16:41 Cases spike in Kokkola region

The incidence rate in the Central Ostrobothnia hospital district has become one of the highest in the country, even though at the end of April the region had Finland's lowest.

Over 1,000 people are in quarantine and 21 new infections were diagnosed on Sunday. Some of the cases in a cluster traced to a May Day brunch at a yacht club in Kokkola have been confirmed as the variant first identified in India.

Coronavirus infections are now spreading rapidly among young people, especially in Kokkola and the nearby small town of Kannus.

Our story is here.

16.5 14:16 It's official: MPs vote on Covid relief package on Tuesday

The Finnish Parliament formally announced on Sunday that it will vote on whether to approve the EU coronavirus recovery package on Tuesday afternoon. A day earlier Deputy Speaker of Parliament Tarja Filatov (SDP) told Yle that MPs would vote on the package on Tuesday.

The vote was originally to have been held on Wednesday but was delayed by a filibuster by MPs from the opposition Finns Party.

16.5 13:06 Crowds again violate Covid restrictions in Lahti

For a second night running, police in Lahti have broken up large, rowdy gatherings of young people in violation of coronavirus restrictions. Häme police say that some 250 youngsters were engaged in disruptive behaviour in Lahti's port district and a nearby park, with loud noise and fights breaking out.

There is currently a ban on gatherings of more than six people in the Lahti region, which has had some of the nation's highest infection figures in recent days.

16.5 13:02 Memorial Day ceremonies held separately

President Sauli Niinistö marked Memorial Day by laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Helsinki's Hietaniemi Cemetery on Sunday.

Representatives of the government, Defense Forces, Border Guard and other organisations also laid wreaths, this time in separate ceremonies due to the pandemic.

16.5 11:54 227 new cases on Sunday

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Sunday that 227 new coronavirus infections had been diagnosed in Finland.

The region with the highest number of new infections was, as usual, the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), with 110 new cases.

Nationwide, there have been some 2800 new cases during the past two weeks, about 400 fewer than during the previous fortnight. The daily number of new cases has remained below 300 since 18 April.

A total of 90,105 corona infections have been diagnosed in Finland so far.

16.5 11:28 Poll: Support for PM's handling of pandemic declining

Most people in Finland, 57 percent, are still satisfied with how Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey published by the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday.

However, support has been steadily declining. The corresponding figure in similar HS polls was 63 percent in March and 66 percent in January.

Not surprisingly, Marin's strongest backing was among supporters of her Social Democratic Party as well as government partners the Left Alliance and the Greens.

Just 16 percent of opposition Finns Party supporters approve of Marin's actions, compared to 42 percent of National Coalition Party backers.

More details here.

15.5 16:34 Vote on EU recovery package on Tuesday

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Tarja Filatov (SDP) told Yle on Saturday afternoon that MPs would vote on the EU recovery package on Tuesday. After a four-day marathon debate, passage of the recovery deal will require a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

More details here.

15.5 14:29 Pace of jabs picks up, 5% fully vaccinated

Almost 38 percent of people in Finland have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Saturday. Some 2.1 million people have received a first dose of vaccine. The number rose by more than 60,000 since Friday.

Meanwhile the share of the population that is fully vaccinated has reached five percent, with nearly 277,000 people having received booster shots.

15.5. 12:29 Debate on EU stimulus package ends, voting date unclear

The Finnish Parliament's debate on the EU coronavirus recovery package, which lasted more than four days, ended shortly before 4 am Saturday.

Deputy Speaker Tarja Filatov (SDP) gavelled the debate to a close and announced that the next plenary session of Parliament would be on Tuesday, 18 May at 2 pm.

No date for voting on the recovery package has yet been confirmed.

You can read more here.

15.5. 12:25 Just under 200 new infections, highest number in Lahti

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 192 new coronavirus infections on Saturday.

The city with the highest number of infections was Lahti, where there were 27 new cases. Tampere and Helsinki each reported 18 cases.

Although more infections were detected in Lahti than Helsinki, the region with the highest number of infections was still the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS), where 48 new infections were diagnosed altogether. In Päijät-Häme, which includes Lahti, 31 new infections were detected.

Nationwide, there were 390 fewer new cases during the past two weeks than during the previous fortnight. The daily number of new cases has remained below 300 since 18 April.

14.5 17:45 Parliament confused as Finns Party filibuster continues

Finland's parliament held a fourth day of debate on the EU budget and stimulus package on Friday, as a Finns Party filibuster continued and parliamentary authorities scrambled to deal with procedural obstructions.

Read more on this story here.

14.5 12:10 Centre Party MP Kulmuni diagnosed with coronavirus

The STT news agency reports that former Centre Party leader and Lapland MP Katri Kulmuni has been diagnosed with Covid-19.

According to the agency, parliamentary authorities say there is no risk that she could have passed the infection on to other MPs.

Kulmuni joins a list of Finnish MPs who are known to have contracted the virus during the pandemic, including Eeva-Johanna Eloranta (SDP), Joonas Könttä (Cen), Arto Satonen (NCP) and Tom Packalén (Finns).

14.5 11:50 Finland records 154 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 154 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing Finland's total since the beginning of the pandemic to 89,686.

Most new infections were in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (90), followed by the hospital districts of Southwest Finland (21) and Central Ostrobothnia (11).

14.5 11:40 Lidl launches at-home Covid tests

German supermarket chain Lidl has launched a range of Covid self-testing kits in Finland. Pharmacies will start offering similar packs to consumers later this month, according to Niina Ikonen of public health institute THL.

Lidl’s five-pack antigen tests retail for €29.99, a company spokesperson told Yle News.

More here.

14.5 9:00 Wrangling continues over EU's Covid bailout

After a marathon session lasting 20 hours earlier this week, MPs are set to once again return to Parliament to debate the European Union's 750-billion-euro Covid recovery plan.

Read more about this story, and the rest of our Friday morning domestic news roundup here.

13.5 18:23 HUS physician: Crowded parks may lead to infections spike

Veli-Matti Ulander, chief administrative physician of the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district, told Yle he is concerned that overcrowding in Finland's parks will lead to an increase in coronavirus infections.

There is more on this story here.

13.5 11:41 Finland reports 262 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL has reported 262 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing Finland's total since the beginning of the pandemic to 89,532.

13.5 11:28 Parliament suspends EU Covid recovery package debate

A parliamentary debate on the EU's 750 billion euros Covid recovery plan has been suspended after a marathon 20-hour plenary session that lasted through Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

Read more on this story here.

12.5 18:32 Restrictions on bars, restaurants to be eased on Thursday

Due to improvements in the epidemic, coronavirus-related restrictions on restaurants and bars will be relaxed to varying degrees across Finland on Thursday, according to authorities.

Find more details here.

12.5 17:43 THL advises football fans not to travel to Euro2020

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has recommended that Finland's football supporters should not travel abroad for the European Championship finals this summer due to coronavirus concerns.

Read more here.

12.5 17:31 Finland to give mRNA boosters to AstraZeneca jab recipients

Finland now recommends that people under 65 who received a first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vector-based vaccine to have their second shot be an mRNA-based vaccine.

Other countries, including Germany, France, Norway and Denmark have made similar decisions, due to concerns over rare blood clot side effects from the AstraZeneca jab.

Read more here.

Blog continues after photo.

Asiakkaita menossa Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 rokotukseen Myyrmäen Energia Areenan rokotuspisteessä Vantaalla.
Pfizer-Biontech vaccinations being administered at Myyrmäki Energia Areena in Vantaa on 5 May. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

12.5 15:21 Two million receive first dose of vaccine

A total of 2,014,653 people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine in Finland, according to the latest figures provided by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL.

This amounts to 36.2 percent of the population of the country.

12.5 14:18 Ministry: Finland on cusp of post-pandemic economic growth

Finland's economic growth is expected to accelerate towards the end of this year with the upturn likely to boost economic growth in 2022, according to the Ministry of Finance's latest economic forecast.

The ministry said Finland's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 2.6 percent in 2021 as the coronavirus epidemic eases, and then by 2.5 percent next year and by 1.5 percent in 2023.

Read more here.

12.5 13:46 Finland sees three new Covid-related deaths

Health institute THL reported there were three coronavirus-related fatalities in Finland over the past day, bringing the country's Covid death toll to 930

Additionally, there were 114 patients receiving hospital care for coronavirus infections across the country, 24 of which were in intensive care units.

12.5 13:20 THL: 280 new cases in Finland on Wednesday

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 280 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours on Wednesday, bringing the overall total number of Finland's Covid-19 cases to 89,270.

The largest number of cases were seen in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (173), while there were 21 cases in the hospital district of Southwest Finland and 18 in the Päijät-Häme Hospital District.

12.5 11:30 Parliament postpones vote on EU Covid recovery fund

A parliamentary vote on the EU's Covid recovery plan, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, has been postponed after a debate on the stimulus package on Tuesday dragged on into the early hours of the morning.

Wednesday's vote had been scheduled to decide whether Finland should approve the EU's 750-billion-euro Covid recovery package and seven-year EU budget framework, of some 1,074 billion euros.

If even one member state does not accept the package, the recovery plan will not be rolled out.

More here.

12.5 9:33 Papers: Helsinki schools plan hybrid graduations

As the capital gradually rolls back coronavirus restrictions, high school seniors in Helsinki will be able to attend their graduation ceremonies in person, writes Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet.

Students and teachers will, however, be the only ones in physical attendance. Ceremonies will be livestreamed for family and friends.

Read more on this story, and the rest of our Wednesday morning paper review, here.

11.5 18:38 Restrictions on some youth hobbies to be partially lifted in Helsinki area

The Helsinki metropolitan coronavirus coordination group has announced that restrictions for children's and young people's hobbies would be lifted on a limited basis starting on 17 May, a decision which affects individuals born in 2001 or after.

The group said that hobby activity arrangers will still need to comply with coronavirus health and safety guidelines.

In addition to child and youth day camps, overnight camps will also be possible on a limited basis starting on 17 May, according to the group.

Meanwhile, the group said that as graduation time approaches, end-of-school parties should be arranged remotely and recommended that private gatherings be limited to a maximum of six people for the time being. The group previously issued a recommendation that no private gatherings be held at all.

11.5 15:33 Parliament debates EU Covid stimulus package

Finland's parliament debated the EU's coronavirus stimulus package on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of a parliamentary vote scheduled for Wednesday. The package will need the support of two thirds of MPs after a parliamentary committee ruled the vote required an enhanced majority.

Finland's decision is of great importance, as the recovery cannot be rolled out until the package is approved by all EU member states.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) did not taking part in today's debate, as she is in voluntary quarantine following an EU summit in Portugal. The PM will however attend tomorrow's vote if her second coronavirus test proves to be negative.

11.5 14:58 Restaurant giant NoHo reports €10m Q1 loss

Finnish restaurant group NoHo Partners reported that its turnover fell by nearly 60 percent to 20.2 million euros during the first quarter of this year.

The company said that coronavirus-related restrictions on restaurants introduced in March had a severe impact on operations.

Read more here.

11.5 13:48 Finland compensates 15 people for Covid vaccine side effects

A total of 15 people in Finland have received compensation for side effects related to a coronavirus vaccine, including for rashes, allergy symptoms, swollen lymph nodes and numbness. The amount of compensation paid out has ranged between 600 and 2,000 euros.

Read more here.

11.5 13:35 THL: 124 cases on Tuesday

The Finnish institute for Health and Welfare THL has reported 124 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing Finland's total number of infections to 88,990.

The health agency also reported that 1,972,784 people in Finland have now received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. This amounts to 35.4 percent of the population.

11.5 13:31 Helsinki launches smartphone-based crowd tracking system

The City of Helsinki is rolling out an anonymous people-tracking system around Esplanadi park, one of the city's most crowded summertime tourist areas, in an effort to help people avoid areas that are highly congested in the pandemic age.

Read more on this story here.

11.5 9:07 Finnair accepts Covid vaccination certificates from today

From Tuesday 11 May, national airline Finnair will start accepting a Covid-19 vaccination certificate from passengers on flights to Finland as an alternative to a negative test result or a certificate of previous infection.

In a press release, the company said it will accept certificates for all vaccines approved by WHO or EMA, but passengers must have received the vaccination at latest 21 days before the date of travel.

10.5 18:59 Regional authorities to decide on Covid restrictions, ministry says

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has announced plans to discontinue the use of a nationwide tier system that had been used to centrally control efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The change in strategy means that local and regional authorities can now decide on the measures required to tackle the spread of the virus within each area.

Read more on this story here.

10.5 15:19 Norwegian to resume Finland flights

Budget airline Norwegian has announced plans to resume flights to and from Finland this summer. In a press release, the company said it will operate about twenty routes from Helsinki-Vantaa to destinations across Europe, most of which are holiday destinations in Spain, Greece and Croatia.

Domestic flights run by the airline to Oulu and Rovaniemi will also recommence, the statement added.

10.5 15:19 Finland finds 10 cases of India variant

Finland has detected around ten cases of the B.1.617 coronavirus variant which was first detected in India, according to Helsinki University virology professor Olli Vapalahti. Most of these infections were found at the border as people arrived into the country.

There is more on this story here.

10.5 11:46 Finland records 143 new cases on Monday

Health agency THL has recorded 143 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing Finland's total number of infections to 88,866.

10.5 9:32 Wide regional variation in financial aid to businesses

Jyväskylä's Keskisuomalainen was among the papers reporting over the weekend that Finnish Lapland tops the table in the level of government-provided support for businesses dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. More on this and other items in our morning review of the Finnish newspaper press.

9.5 17:50 PM Marin: Patents shouldn't hinder global vaccination

Speaking in the Portuguese city of Porto this weekend, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said vaccine patents should not become a hurdle in global vaccination efforts.

While the EU has yet to find common ground on the issue of temporary Covid vaccine patent waivers, Marin said it was important that talks on the matter had begun.

She said she hoped the bloc would formulate its position on waivers by the next EU summit in June.

Marin was in Porto for an EU summit hosted by the Portuguese EU Council Presidency.

9.5 14:33 Finland records 162 new cases, 35% receive one vaccine dose

On Sunday, public health institute THL confirmed 162 new coronavirus infections in the country, bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 88,723.

Most new infections were in the Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) hospital district, with 90 cases, followed by Southwest Finland (24) and Päijät-Häme (14).

Some 40,000 more people have meanwhile received a coronavirus vaccine since Saturday. Public health institute THL said around 1.94 million people have received one vaccine dose, accounting for nearly 35 percent of the population.

8.5 13:22 229 new infections

Finland recorded 229 new confirmed Covid infections on Saturday, bringing the cumulative total to 88,561.

The biggest growth was recorded in the Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) hospital district, with 85 cases added. Southwest Finland recorded 50 new cases and Pirkanmaa 31.

Meanwhile THL announced that some 1,903,818 people had received their first dose of Covid vaccine, an increase of 34,252 since Friday.

That equates to 34.2 percent of the population.

8.5 13:15 Opposition MP: Councils' Covid support too generous

Finns Party vice-chair Riikka Purra says that the government's support package for municipalities was too generous, and enabled some councils to bank cash they didn't need. Read our story here.

8.5 12:05 PM's emails sealed

The office of the Prime Minister has refused to hand over emails sent by the PM and her advisors when they were preparing failed lockdown legislation, after a request by the Finnish news agency STT. The Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Pöysti has published his side of the correspondence. Read our story here.

7.5 17:48 Future of Finland's Covid nasal spray vaccine uncertain

A Finnish Covid vaccine company says it risks private investors withdrawing from the endeavour after the state investment agency Business Finland said it would not cover the full cost of a clinical trial.

More on this story here.

7.5 12:36 Finland reports 254 new cases on Friday

There were 254 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases registered in Finland over the past 24 hours on Friday, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Once again, the majority of cases (112) were seen in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District, while there were 76 cases registered in the hospital district of Southwest Finland and 17 cases in the Pirkanmaa Hospital District.

As of Friday, Finland has recorded 88.332 Covid cases since the start of the epidemic last year.

7.5 12:31 Covid home test kits hitting stores

A Finnish company says it is bringing hundreds of thousands of Covid home test kits to the market in the near future.

The test, giving results in 15 to 20 minutes, are expected to retail for around 10 euros.

More on this story here.

7.5 9:17 Paper: Finns heading to Russia for vaccine

Finland has the EU's second-highest cumulative uptake of at least one coronavirus vaccine dose, but Covid-19 vaccine tourism is still drawing some people to Russia.

Many Finns have travelled across the Russian border to get the Sputnik V vaccine, according to tabloid Ilta-Sanomat.

Read more about this and other stories in Friday's newspaper review.

6.5 15:43 VR reports more pandemic-fuelled losses

State railway VR reported a loss of almost 15 million euros in January-March 2021. A year ago, the company reported a profit of just under 13 million euros. Sales decreased by more than 18 percent to just under 190 million.

The company cited the Covid pandemic as the main reason for the decline.

More details here.

6.5 12:26 Two million vaccine doses given, 240,000 more to arrive soon

The number of vaccine doses administered has passed the two million mark, Taneli Puumalainen, head of THL's infectious diseases unit, said at a press conference on Thursday.

The EU target is for 70 percent of the adult population to have received at least a first dose of vaccine by August. According to Puumalainen, Finland will reach this goal earlier. The country has the EU's second-highest vaccination rate so far, with 39.4 percent of the adult population having received at least one dose.

"During the summer, everyone who wants to should have received the first dose of the vaccine," Puumalainen said.

At least 240,000 doses are to arrive in Finland in the next few weeks, with the pace of imports accelerating in late May.

6.5 12:10 280 new infections, incidence rate falls to 54

The number of coronavirus cases has continued to decrease, but the decline has slowed, officials from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said at a press conference on Thursday morning.

They reported 280 new cases of coronavirus since Wednesday. The incidence rate is now 54 nationally, and below 100 in all hospital districts. The highest is the Helsinki-Uusimaa district (HUS) at 88.

Last week, about 1,350 new cases were reported, about 250 fewer than in the previous week.

6.5 11:29 Pandemic brings more rental flats to Helsinki market

A fall in jobs in service industries during the pandemic has freed up large numbers of rental flats in the Finnish capital, with around 2,000 rentals in Helsinki currently listed online. Read more here.

6.5 9:25 Tourism from Russia is still a big question mark

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat points out that tourism from Russia is still a big question mark, as the country's infection figures and vaccine coverage are much worse than here, at least for the time being. In addition, the World Health Organisation and the European Medicines Agency are still evaluating the Sputnik V vaccine, so the certificate for Sputnik V is not yet generally accepted as valid. More on that in our review of the Finnish newspaper press.

5.5 13:04 Vaccination pace slows as booster jabs begin

Finland's vaccination pace is slowing down as a greater number of people start receiving booster doses. Elderly residents and healthcare workers are first in line for the second injection.

Many people in Finland who have received one shot of a coronavirus vaccine are scheduled for a second dose this month. This means fewer vaccines are available for those getting their first jab, even though officials say vaccine deliveries to the country are picking up.

Finland has the EU's highest vaccination rate besides Hungary, the only member state that is using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, which has not been approved by the EMA.

More details here.

5.5 12:20 Finland planning to require negative Covid status from arriving passengers

Work is underway at the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on a law that would require foreign visitors to show proof of negative Covid-19 status in order to enter the country.

"We are currently investigating how such a law could be implemented," said the ministry's Permanent Secretary, Kirsi Varhila.

Read more here.

5.5 12:15 Finland sees 269 cases on Wednesday

There were 269 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections registered in Finland over the past day on Wednesday, bringing the country's overall case total to 87,798, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

5.5 11:52 Pori Jazz cancelled again

Organisers of the summertime Pori Jazz music festival have called off the event for the second year in a row due to coronavirus concerns.

The nine-day music festival was scheduled to be held in the city of Pori on 9-17 July.

Organisers said it was not possible to bring hundreds of thousands of people together amid the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the epidemic.

However, a scaled-down version of the annual gathering is still being planned on 15-17 July, at the city's Kirjurinluoto park area, dubbed Pori Jazz Plays Again.

A limited number of tickets will go on sale for that event on Friday, 7 May, with arrangements carried out in accordance with the Covid situation and official guidelines.

Meanwhile, Pori Jazz CEO, Miika Ranne, unexpectedly announced his resignation on Wednesday.

Ranne, who has led Pori Jazz for the past three years, told Yle that he and the festival's board of directors came to the agreement that it would be a natural time to change leadership if the event was cancelled again.

However, he would not disclose details about the reasons behind his departure, or if there was possible conflict within the organisation.

4.5 16:10 Finland sees 184 new cases on Tuesday

Finland recorded 184 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases over the past day on Tuesday, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare THL, continuing a trend of relatively low numbers of new cases in recent weeks.

Most of Tuesday's cases were diagnosed in the capital region, with 47 in Helsinki, 23 in Vantaa and 20 in Espoo.

Meanwhile, THL reported one new coronavirus-related fatality on Tuesday, bringing the country's overall Covid death toll to 916.

There were 128 people receiving hospital treatment for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, with 29 patients in intensive care units. Over the past 10 days, the number of Covid patients in hospitals around the country declined by 5.9 percent.

On Monday the daily case figure was even lower, 117.

4.5 11:16 Budget cuts anger culture sector

The government budget framework talks which concluded last week brought news of budget cuts for the arts and culture sector.

The sector in Finland has largely been financed through profits from the state-owned gambling company Veikkaus, but this income has dropped sharply, partly due to the pandemic.

Arts industry representatives called planned cuts "a disappointment" and warned that freelance workers would be hit hardest.

You can read more here.

4.5 9:09 Tuesday's papers: Saving summer

With a lot of people's thoughts moving toward this summer and the year's lowest coronavirus case numbers being reported on Sunday and Monday, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat asks if life will get back to normal this year.

"The trend has been very positive," Turku University virologist Ilkka Julkkunen told the paper.

Other experts told the tabloid it was possible that many people could celebrate this year's Midsummer as normal.

But HUS Director of Diagnostics Lasse Lehtonen warned the paper that variants of the virus and the success of the testing regime at Finland's borders could slow a return to normality.

Read more about this story and more here.

And if you'd like to receive the week's biggest stories direct to your inbox, you can sign up for our newsletter here.

3.5 18:51 Finland's car dealers see glimpse of Covid recovery

Signs of a slight improvement in vehicle sales have begun to appear in Finland but April's levels were still well below normal, according to fresh figures from the Automobile Sector's Information Centre.

Vehicle sales last month were 6.5 percent below long-term averages, but 47.8 percent higher than April 2020.

Read more here.

3.5 17:05 Ten percent of construction workers exposed to coronavirus, survey finds

There have been several coronavirus-related safety shortcomings at construction sites across the country, according to results of a survey commissioned by the Finnish Construction Trade Union's Rakentaja (Builder) newspaper.

Around 10 percent of the respondents said they had been exposed to coronavirus while on the job, with 21 percent of that group saying they had been infected by the virus.

Read more here.

3.5 15:29 Ombudsman fields complaints about vaccinations, other pandemic measures

Finland's Parliamentary Ombudsman has received 82 formal complaints about actions by various authorities concerning the country's coronavirus vaccination schedule and related topics.

"The range of complaints is broad, but a few issues stand out. There have been many complaints about the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, as well as about the vaccination schedule," says Lotta Hämeen-Anttila, Senior Secretary to the Ombudsman.

Read the whole story here.

3.5 13:43 Tukes: No harmful chemical concentrations found in consumer face masks

An examination of 21 various protective face masks commercially available in Finland found no harmful concentrations of harmful substances, according to a study led by the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes).

Read more here.

3.5 12:13 Another record low in new infections

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported this year's lowest daily number of new infections on Monday, 117. That follows Sunday's count of 132 new cases, which was the lowest since 16 November, when 104 new infections were reported. On Saturday, May Day, 288 new Covid infections were announced.

According to the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS), the number of tests and reported infections typically decline on holidays, but about the same number of people took tests on May Day as on a regular Saturday.

3.5 11:35 Restaurant restrictions gradually easing

Restrictions on restaurants and bars may be eased as early as Friday 7 May, but a closer watch is being kept on some regions. Restrictions in regions in the acceleration phase are being assessed with more flexibility than in regions where the pandemic is in the base or the community spreading phases. More on this development here.

3.5 9:48 Growing dissatisfaction with government anti-Covid actions

A poll by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (Eva) shows that broad-based support for government action to battle the pandemic has faded. In the spring of 2020, a clear majority of voters who back opposition parties also gave their unreserved support to the government's coronavirus restrictions. This is no longer the case. More on that in our press review.

2.5 13:15 Over 30 percent of population receives vaccine dose

Health officials on Sunday reported that 30.4 percent of the population (1,694,744 individuals) had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

2.5 12:24 Finland records lowest daily case count in almost six months

Public health institute THL on Sunday reported 132 coronavirus infections, bringing total infections in the country to date to 87,228. Sunday's case count was the lowest reported since 16 November, when 104 new infections occurred.

Most new cases were in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (60), followed by the Southwest Finland hospital district (35).

1.5 16:15 Covid protest broken up

Police say they have broken up a protest against Covid restrictions in central Helsinki. Read our story here.

1.5 12:15 May Day peaceful so far

Police say that the May Day festival had been mostly peaceful on Saturday and Friday night. There were more domestic callouts than usual, but fewer tasks overall than on a normal May Day.

Read our story here.

1.5 12:10 288 new cases

THL says that Finland recorded 288 new Covid infections on Saturday. Altogether there have now been 87,096 infections.

The biggest rise was seen once again in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district, with 116 new cases. The Päijät-Häme hospital district saw 63 new cases while in Pirkanmaa there were 39.

1.5 12:06 EU concern over Covid stimulus

National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo says that he has been contacted by several EU leaders about the party's decision to abstain on the European Union's Covid stimulus fund. The measure requires a two-thirds majority in Finland's parliament. Our story is here.

30.4 14:26 Four hospital districts relax gathering rules

Regional authorities are relaxing restrictions on gatherings in some parts of the country. Public gatherings of up to 50 people can as of Monday go ahead in the hospital districts of Lapland, North Savo, North Karelia and South Savo.

Current rules in these areas have capped meetings at 20 people. Officials are, however, urging people to celebrate May Day close to home and avoid venturing into city centres.

30.4 13:55 One new Covid death

Health officials on Friday contributed one more death to coronavirus. Covid has claimed 914 lives in Finland since the beginning of the country's epidemic last spring.

30.4 12:00 Finland records 195 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL on Friday reported 195 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing Finland's total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic to 86,808.

30.4 10:30 Oulu orders quarantined nurses back to work

Coronavirus infection clusters at two Oulu hospitals had resulted in more than 40 cases by Thursday evening, according to health officials.

Quarantined nurses employed by Oulu city hospital told Yle they were called back in to work to care for Covid patients after seven days owing to staff shortages.

Public health institute THL currently recommends that individuals exposed to the virus quarantine for no less than ten days.

30.4 9:27 Vapaavuori criticises border testing plans

Friday's media roundup explores Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori's criticism of plans to mandate coronavirus tests on ferry passengers entering the country at the Port of Helsinki.

Vapaavuori said queues could stretch five kilometres out to sea as the terminals were not designed to hold people for long periods of time.

More on this story here.

29.4 17:32 Highest incidence rate in southwestern region, authorities urge continuing precautions

The incidence rate in the Southwest Finland region rose to the highest in the country on Wednesday, registering a reported 106.4 per 100,000 residents, surpassing the region of Uusimaa, where it was 106.3 per 100,000. On Thursday those figures were 101.7 for Southwest Finland and 100.5 for Uusimaa, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). Read more here.

29.4 15:55 International military music festival Hamina Tattoo cancelled

The upcoming Hamina Tattoo military music festival in Hamina has been cancelled due to the circumstances caused by Covid.

Pre-purchased and reserved tickets will not be valid for the 2022 Hamina Tattoo. In a press release, the event organizers stated that there may be changes to the current structures, which might affect the number of seats in the stands.

Hamina Tattoo will be in touch with those who have reserved or purchased a ticket with information on how to proceed. The next Hamina Tattoo will be held 11-16 July 2022.

Kotka Maritime Days also announced today that the event will be cancelled for 2021.

29.4 13:02 Indian Covid variant reaches Finland

The so-called India Covid variant, B.1.617, has been detected in three positive Covid samples in Finland. Read more here.

29.4 11:09 39 cases in infection clusters at Oulu hospitals

Nearly 40 people have contracted the coronavirus in an infection cluster linked to two hospitals in the northern city of Oulu.

A total of 11 people have been diagnosed with Covid infections at Oulu University Hospital (OYS), while 28 cases had been reported at Oulu City Hospital as of Wednesday afternoon. The first infections were detected at OYS a week ago, and infections related to the same chain were later also detected at the city hospital.

Five of those infected at OYS are patients while six are employees, said Juha Korpelainen, Chief Physician of the Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District.

In February and March, Oulu City Hospital suffered an extensive Covid outbreak, resulting in more than 100 infections and 19 deaths.

29.4 10:52 Kotka Maritime Festival to be cancelled

One of Finland's biggest annual summer events, the Kotka Maritime Festival (Kotkan Meripäivät) is likely to be cancelled this year, as recommended by a top city leadership council. The city council is to make the final decision on 17 May.

The event in the southeastern port city attracts some 200,000 visitors annually. This year's festival was to have been held in late July in the Sapokka harbour district and at the Arto Tolsa Arena. It has been held since 1962, so next year will mark its 50th anniversary.

29.4 10:30 Private gyms re-open in worst-hit pandemic areas

As of Thursday, fitness and recreational centres were allowed to re-open after a four-week closure in the areas that had the highest infection rates.

According to the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland (AVI), "the use of the premises must comply with hygiene requirements and ensure that participants or customers have the opportunity to maintain safe distances".

The agency ordered sports and recreational venues to be closed on 1 April. The ruling covered the hospital districts of Helsinki and Uusimaa, South Karelia, Kanta-Häme and Päijät-Häme. Prior to the full closure, which was made possible by the new Infectious Diseases Act, gyms were allowed to remain open if no more than 10 people were training at a time.

29.4 9:47 Wide variation in vaccination coverage

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that vaccination coverage in Finland now ranges from a low of 16.4 percent in Liminka in the North Ostrobothnia region to 50.2 percent in Puumala, South Savo. Meanwhile Aamulehti notes it was officially confirmed on Tuesday that a national coronavirus vaccination certificate will be introduced in Finland at the end of May. More in our review of the Finnish press.

See previous updates here.

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