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Coronavirus updates 1.7.2021-16.7.2021

16.7 12:55 Finland plans new bar restrictions

With the Covid situation deteriorating in Finland, the government says it wants to close bars by 1am in several regions.

Measures will target bars and restaurants in Päijät-Häme, Kymenlaakso and Southwest Finland, which health experts said were in an "acceleration phase" of the epidemic.

More on this story here.

16.7 12:45 Finland reports 380 new cases

The Finnish institute for health and welfare (THL) on Friday reported 380 new lab-confirmed infection in the country, bringing the caseload since the start of the pandemic to 99,592.

Most new cases—235—were in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS), followed by the hospital distrcts of Southwest Finland (36), Pirkanmaa (26) and Päijät-Häme (23).

16.7 11:40 Helsinki to cut interval between first and second Covid vaccine doses

The City of Helsinki on Thursday said residents will soon be able to advance their appointments for second shots as many slots are available. Leena Turpeinen, a city health director, said Helsinki was preparing to shorten vaccine intervals to eight weeks from the current 12.

Read the full story here.

15.7 12:34 Finland records 324 new cases

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 324 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday.

Cases in Finland have tripled since mid-June, with the Delta variant accounting for most of the recent infections in the country.

The THL as well as the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said that the epidemic was now spreading quickly among young adults, notably at bars and parties. A third of new infections are now diagnosed among 20 to 29-year-olds.

14.7 12:05 Finland rolls out digital EU Covid certificates

People in Finland can as of Wednesday access the EU's digital vaccine "passports" from the healthcare portal My Kanta.

The certificates provide information on whether holders have been jabbed, have recovered from the virus or have a recent test result. The free certificates, which contain a QR code, are available in Finnish, Swedish and English.

The joint EU certificate, introduced throughout the bloc, allows holders in theory to move between member states without having to quarantine or undergo extra coronavirus tests.

More details here.

14.7 12:00 Finland reports 383 new cases on Wednesday

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) recorded 383 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours on Wednesday.

The largest number of new cases, 220, was diagnosed in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), followed by Southeast Finland (42).

13.7 13:30 THL: 290 new cases on Tuesday

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) confirmed 290 new coronavirus infections in Finland on Tuesday.

Three more coronavirus patients have been admitted to hospital, adding to a total of 46 of which nine are in intensive care.

12.7 15:15 THL: Pandemic weakened working capacity of Finland's under-50s

The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) suggests that the pandemic has drastically affected people's ability to work. A new study by the agency suggests the strain is particularly felt by those under the age of 50 as well as women.

By the end of 2020, 14 percent of women aged between 25 and 49 reported being totally or partially incapacitated in terms of being able to work. The corresponding figure in 20 17 was nine percent.

Read more here.

12.7 12:20 Finland reports 133 new cases on Monday

Finland has recorded 133 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). A total of 43 coronavirus patients are currently being treated in hospital of which eight are in intensive care.

12.7 12:05 New entry model comes into force

Travellers arriving in Finland will have to comply with new rules from Monday 12 July.

The new model, which was designed to facilitate the use of the EU coronavirus vaccine passports, will see leisure travel resume.

The transition period will end on 25 July. Until this date, border checks between Finland and Schengen countries will remain in place.

Finland decided to implement a transition period between 12 and 25 July to allow time for border guard officials to prepare for the new testing regulations and Covid certificate verification processes.

After the transition period, internal border controls and entry restrictions currently in place for travellers arriving in Finland from Schengen countries will be suspended.

Read more about the new entry model here.

11.7 17:20 Der Spiegel: Finland best at handling pandemic

According to Germany's largest news site, Finland has shown the best results in dealing with Covid-19.

Der Spiegel compared a palette of factors for its index, published on Thursday under the headline "Where the Fight against the Pandemic Succeeds". The newsmagazine weighed Covid-related data from 154 countries with populations over five million.

According to its analysis, Finland (1.75 points) and Luxemburg (2 points) have been most successful in coping with the pandemic.

Read more here.

11.7 11:57 THL: 138 new cases, Delta accounts for 91% of Russia-linked cases

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Sunday that 138 new coronavirus infections had been diagnosed in Finland. By far the highest number of new infections, 106, were detected in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS). All other districts reported totals in the single digits, if any.

More than 98,000 infections have been confirmed by labs in Finland since last year.

According to THL Chief Specialist Carita Savolainen-Kopra, the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, currently accounts for more than 80 percent of the test results sequenced in Finland. About one fifth of coronavirus samples are analysed through sequencing.

These studies indicate that Delta accounts for 91 percent of samples from individuals found to be positive on the Russian border and who have had contacts with Russia.

According to Savolainen-Kopra, the share of Alpha variant, originally known as the British variant, has dropped to about six percent, compared to 76 percent last spring.

11.7. 11:33 THL: Vaccine benefits outweigh risks for pregnant women

The benefits of the coronavirus vaccine outweigh the disadvantages for pregnant women, according to Chief Physician Hanna Nohynek of the Infectious Disease Control and Vaccines Unit at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The THL said in early June that mothers-to-be can take coronavirus vaccine if they wish. According to the available research, foetuses are not harmed by the vaccine.

"We know that pregnant women have a higher risk of getting serious cases of Covid-19 than others of their age. This is due to physiological changes related to pregnancy," Nohynek told the Finnish News Agency STT.

More details here.

10.7 16:27 23.5% fully inoculated, few patients in ICUs

Approximately 3.44 million people in Finland, or 62 percent of the population, have received the first dose of the coronary vaccine in Finland, says the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Saturday.

The vaccination coverage for the second dose is now 23.5 percent, with about 1.3 million people getting booster shots so far. The number of people who have received a second dose rose by more than 32,000 since Friday.

Meanwhile the number of new cases has been on the rise for about three weeks. However as risk groups have been vaccinated and most of the new infections among people aged 15-30, the number of hospital patients has not risen significantly. As of Saturday there are 34 patients in hospital nationwide, eight of them in intensive care. In March there were as many as 62 patients in ICUs.

The death toll rose this week by two to 976.

10.7 12:23 THL reports 293 new cases on Saturday

On Saturday, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said that 293 new coronavirus infections had been diagnosed in Finland in the past 24 hours. The highest number of new infections were, as usual, in the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS).

THL said on Friday that the Delta variant, first identified in India late last year, now accounts for more than 80 percent of the new cases found across the country.

Nearly 98,000 infections have been diagnosed in Finland since January 2020.

10.7 11:11 Infections at 25 Helsinki restaurants and bars in 2 weeks

The number of coronavirus infections has been increasing again in the Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) district for the past three weeks, since before the Midsummer holiday weekend. The incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants has risen to 68 in the last two weeks.

According to Terhi Heinäsmäki, the City of Helsinki's infectious diseases specialist, the number of coronavirus infections at restaurants and bars in Helsinki has clearly increased in recent days.

"According to our calculations, one or more infections have been diagnosed in about 25 drinking places since Monday last week," she told Yle on Friday afternoon.

You can read more here.

9.7 15:00 More regions join Helsinki and Uusimaa in acceleration phase

Coronavirus cases have spiked in certain areas and some regions are now re-entering the pandemic acceleration phase in the government's three-level restrictions model.

The areas to join Helsinki and Uusimaa in the acceleration phase this week are the regions of Southwest Finland, Päijät-Häme and Kymenlaakso.

9.7 12:00 THL: 302 new confirmed cases on Friday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL has reported 302 new coronavirus infections on Friday. Hospitalisations have fallen by 2 to 42.

The highest number of infections, 159, were diagnosed in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district.

Finland has reported 2,520 coronavirus infections over the past 14 days, which is 1,438 more cases than in the previous two-week period.

8.7 15:57 Government extends internal border controls until 25 July

Finland's government has decided to extend internal border controls for a further two weeks until 25 July to prevent the spread of coronavirus or any virus variants, according to a Thursday afternoon press release from the Ministry of the Interior.

The extension is also intended to give municipalities and joint municipal authorities time to prepare for the implementation of updated health security measures under the Communicable Diseases Act.

Read more on this story here.

8.7 15:25 Southwest Finland re-enters acceleration phase

A spike in cases in Southwest Finland means the region now re-enters the acceleration phase in the government's three-level restrictions model.

The region's 14-day incidence rate has increased significantly, standing now at 44.7 cases (from 27.4 on 1 July) per 100,000 inhabitants.

While the use of face masks, remote working and limitations on gatherings are still strongly recommended, the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southwest Finland said it will be keeping restrictions to a minimum.

8.7 12:20 New cases reach 300 on Thursday

Finland has reported 300 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic to 97,349.

8.7. 12:00 THL recommends reintroducing restrictions on bars, restaurants as infections increase

Restrictions on the opening hours of bars and restaurants may need to be reintroduced as the coronavirus situation has deteriorated in some parts of Finland, according to Mika Salminen, Director of Health Security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL.

Salminen said in an interview with the breakfast show Ylen Aamu on Thursday morning that the health agency will be reporting about 300 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, as case numbers have spiked in recent weeks.

A large proportion of the latest cases are connected to infection chains formed by returnees from the European Football Championship game in St. Petersburg between Finland and Belgium at the end of last month. More than 450 cases have been confirmed among the football tourists, but precautionary measures have limited the spread to 165 further infections.

Currently, bars and restaurants are allowed to be open as normal across the country, with the exception of the Uusimaa region, where opening hours are restricted to between 5am and 1am. Salminen said that more areas may have to follow Uusimaa's regulations, adding that the government could reintroduce the restrictions as early as Thursday, if needed.

Read more on this story here.

7.7 15:56 Tampere offers walk-in Covid vaccinations

Tampere residents over the age of 16, and those over 12 belonging to risk groups, will be able to receive a vaccine without needing to book an appointment as the city has opened a walk-in vaccination point at the Pirkkahalli exhibition and sports centre.

Birgit Aikio, head of nursing at the city of Tampere, said that the move came after young people experienced issues booking online, as not all young people are able to complete the authentication process.

The vaccination will be open on weekdays from 9am to 2pm until Monday 12 July. From Tuesday 13 July, the opening hours will be from 11am to 4pm until the end of July. People with appointments will need to bring an identity card, passport, driver's licence or their KELA card. EU citizens can book appointments with the European Health Insurance Card.

7.7 14:36 Postponed vaccine appointments causing service congestion

Vaccination centres are struggling to deal with inconsistent attendance at coronavirus vaccination appointments, especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area.

Director of Health and Substance Abuse Services at the City of Helsinki, Leena Turpeinen, told Yle that the callback queue for vaccination appointments in the capital region has stretched to thousands of people.

Read more here.

7.7 13:04 Finnish company receives funding for nasal spray Covid vaccine

A Finnish company has received "significant" funding of about 9 million euros towards further developing a coronavirus vaccine which can be administered as a nasal spray.

Ferring Ventures SA, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, and the Finnish Cultural Foundation have pledged a capital investment of 3.5 million euros in the company, Rokote (which means Vaccine in Finnish) Laboratories Finland. In addition, state investment agency Business Finland has granted a loan of 5.5 million euros to the company to support further development and clinical trials of the nasal spray vaccine.

Read more on this story here.

7.7 11:53 Finland reports 258 new cases, two further deaths

Finland's health agency THL has reported 258 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday. This brings the total number of infections in Finland since the beginning of the pandemic to 97,049.

THL also reported to further deaths linked to the virus since last week. Finland's death toll now stands at 976.

6.7 19:09 Finland lists low-risk countries

Finland's government has clarified the terms of an entry model approved by Parliament last week.

The model allows anyone who has proof of being fully vaccinated or having recovered from Covid within the previous six months to travel to Finland without the need to undergo a Covid test.

The new regulations also allow passengers from countries considered to be 'low-risk' to enter the country without providing any such proof or undergoing a Covid test, but there was disagreement between government members over whether this threshold should be set at 10 infections or 25 infections per 100,000 inhabitants over the preceding two-week period in the passenger's country of origin.

Read more on this story, and see the list of countries, here.

6.7 17:24 Restrictions on gatherings in Helsinki extend into August

The Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) of Southern Finland has extended restrictions on public events in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The agency said on Tuesday that current rules will remain in force in Helsinki and the neighbouring cities of Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa until 10 August.

Read more on this story here.

6.7 15:38 Norwegian police warn travellers to prepare for wait

Norwegian police have issued a warning to travellers coming into the country from Finland to "prepare for the wait. Bring water and food. There are no facilities at the border."

"Travellers from Finland should be prepared to wait for several hours when crossing the border from Finland to Norway at Kilpis," the police stated.

The border is open 24 hours a day, every day, with the police adding that traffic at its heaviest between 8am and 8pm. The police said they encourage travellers to arrive at the border outside of peak travelling hours.

6.7 13:40 Lengthy delays on Finland-Norway border as travel rules eased

There was heavy traffic congestion at the Finnish-Norwegian border on Monday as tourists attempting to cross the border at Lake Kilpisjärvi and Nuorgam were met with Covid-testing queues stretching back for kilometres.

Norwegian authorities had eased entry restrictions earlier on Monday, allowing travellers from almost every region in Finland to enter the country without the need to quarantine.

Kainuu is currently the only Finnish area that has not been given the green light for quarantine-free travel to Norway.

While Covid-passport holders can skip the queue and enter freely, non-vaccinated or people who have only received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine must wait their turn for a Covid test, which could take up to five or six hours.

Read the full story here.

6.7 11:43 THL: 222 new cases on Tuesday

The Finnish Institute for health and Welfare THL has reported 222 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing Finland's total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic to 96,791.

6.7 11:40 Cabinet ministers disagree over Covid entry model

There is disagreement among the five governing parties on how to define which countries have a sufficiently low coronavirus risk to allow their residents to enter Finland freely. The cabinet is to make the final decision on the matter on Tuesday.

On Friday, Parliament approved an entry model that facilitates entry to Finland from abroad.

Read more on this story here.

5.7 12:20 Norway eases travel from Finland – except Kainuu

Norway has made it easier for residents of Finland to visit. As of Monday, everyone except those living in the Kainuu region is free to travel to Norway without vaccination or quarantine requirements.

Norway is tracking infection levels in Finland and colour-codes the country's hospital districts. The latest version of the map, published on 5 July, shows Kainuu in orange and the rest of Finland in green.

Residents of the green areas may visit Norway without quarantine or a vaccine certificate. Residents of the orange area must be quarantined for 10 days on arrival unless they are fully vaccinated.

The map will next be updated on Monday, 12 July.

5.7 11:45 Finland reports 106 new cases on Monday

Health agency THL has reported 106 new lab-confirmed coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing Finland's total to 96,569.

4.7 18:25 Norway says 'no way' to unvaccinated Helsinkians

New rules introduced by Norwegian authorities mean that visitors from some parts of Finland must quarantine on arrival. Residents from the Helsinki-Uusimaa, Päijät-Häme, Pirkanmaa and Kainuu hospital districts currently face strict entrance restrictions.

More details here.

4.7 13:13 Daily caseload down from Wednesday peak, 91 on Sunday

The national health institute THL reported 91 new coronavirus infections on Sunday.

About two thirds of the new cases, 65, were in the Helsinki-Uusimaa region with much smaller numbers in South Karelia, Southwestern Finland and elsewhere.

The daily caseload has been steadily declining since Wednesday's spike of 355, which was driven by football fans returning from Russia. That was the highest single-day total since mid-April.

More than 60 percent of people in Finland have received at least one dose of vaccine, with more than one fifth fully vaccinated.

There are 11 patients in intensive care, while 974 people have died since last year.

3.7 12:22 One in five fully inoculated, 192 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said on Saturday that 192 new coronavirus infections have been diagnosed in Finland.

To date, 96,372 coronavirus infections have been lab-confirmed in the country.

The largest increase in infections was in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), where 67 new cases were detected. Pirkanmaa, including the south-central city of Tampere, had the second highest number of new infections, 28, followed by 23 in Southwest Finland.

After months of declining figures, the number of new cases in the past two weeks has risen by around 800 compared to the previous fortnight, largely due to infections brought back by football fans who visited St Petersburg last month.

Sixty percent of Finland's population has received at least a first dose of vaccine, with 20 percent fully inoculated. The death toll rose this week to 973.

2.7 15:31 Epidemic situation worsens in southeast Finland

Following deterioration in the area's Covid situation, health authorities in the Kymenlaakso region raised its three-tier epidemic severity level to the second-highest level (acceleration phase). Previously, the region was at the first level (baseline phase).

The region's infection rate this week rose to 31 cases out of 100,000 inhabitants over a period of two weeks. In early June, the rate was 13 out of 100,000 residents.

According to the region's hospital district, Kymenlaakso recorded 15 cases on Friday, 20 on Thursday and 10 cases on Wednesday.

2.7 13:27 Finland sees 216 new cases on Friday

Finland recorded 216 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, according to the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Over the past two weeks a total of 1,797 new cases were recorded in Finland, a figure which represents an increase of 616 compared to the previous fortnight.

Finland has logged more than 96,000 Covid cases since the beginning of the epidemic last year.

Meanwhile, 40 people were receiving hospital treatment for coronavirus infections, 11 of whom were in intensive care as of Friday.

2.7 12:44 Parliament approves new entry rules for visitors

In a unanimous decision on Friday, Finnish MPs approved new border entry regulations, which will enable people from countries with low Covid case levels to travel to Finland.

Read more here.

2.7 10:55 Football fan case surge scuttles plans to lighten face mask advisory

Preparations by Finland's health authority THL to loosen coronavirus face mask recommendations were already underway before hundreds of infected football fans returned from Russia last week, according to news group Uutissuomalainen.

The development means that the agency's mask advisory will likely remain in place at least until late summer.

Read more here.

1.7 18:55 Health authority advises avoiding travel to Russia over virus concerns

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL recommended on Thursday that people in Finland should avoid travelling to Russia due to the sharply deteriorating coronavirus situation in the country.

Read more here.

1.7 12:30 THL: 386 cases linked to Russia football trips

Almost 400 coronavirus infections have now been linked to football fans returning to the country after watching Finland play Belgium in the Euro2020 championship finals in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on 21 June.

At the weekly coronavirus press briefing on Thursday morning health agency THL reported there has been a sharp rise in infections this week, a total of 947, with more than 40 percent diagnosed among European Football Championships returnees.

It is cases of the Delta variant in particular that are a cause for concern for health officials as many of the football tourists who have returned from Russia have tested positive for the more contagious virus variant.

Officials however added that the overall pandemic situation in the country is considered to be broadly under control.

Most of Finland is at the baseline level of the epidemic while Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen, Lahti and Kajaani are the only cities reported to be in the acceleration phase.

Hospital admissions have also mostly remained stable. A total of 38 coronavirus patients are being treated in hospital as of 1 July, three of which are in primary care units, 28 in specialist care, and seven in intensive care.

1.7 11:44 THL: 222 new cases on Thursday

The Institute for Health and Welfare THL reported 222 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours on Thursday.

The largest number of new cases, 103, were diagnosed in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS).

There have also been four additional deaths linked to the virus since Wednesday, the agency reported, bringing Finland's total to 973.

For previous updates click here.

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