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Coronavirus latest: Many in Finland to get AstraZeneca jab, increased testing at borders

This article brings you the latest updates on the novel coronavirus pandemic in Finland.

Mehiläisen drive-in-testausasemalla Helsingin Hernesaaressa tehtiin koronavirustestejä lumisessa säässä 4. tammikuuta 2021.
Worker at private health firm Mehiläinen drive-in coronavirus testing point. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
  • 40,772 lab-confirmed infections as of Tuesday 19.1 (up by 217 since Monday)
  • 633 deaths attributed to coronavirus as of Tuesday 19.1 (up by 12 since Monday 18.1)
  • 141 people in hospital, 24 of them in intensive care as of Tuesday 19.1
  • THL reports on Covid-related fatalities and hospital patient statistics on weekdays

19.1 20:34 Municipalities preparing large vaccination centres

Municipalities across Finland have started preparing for the introduction of a mass vaccination strategy, with large convention centres in major cities set to be the focal points.

Read more on this story here.

19.1 15:10 Expert: Halving booster doses would yield more vaccines

Halving the second booster jab could be a solution to the issue of reduced vaccine supplies, according to the director of the Vaccine Research Centre at the University of Tampere, especially if delivery delays of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine continue.

There is more on this story here.

19.1 13:39 Nearly 56,000 people in Finland have received vaccine so far

Health agency THL reported on Tuesday that almost 56,000 people in Finland have so far received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccination.

The highest number of vaccines were distributed in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) area, where 15,000 people have received the jab.

19.1 13:06 Finland records 217 new infections

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has reported 217 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 40,772.

Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) registered the highest number of new cases with 81 infections, followed by hospital districts in Southwest Finland (40) and Northern Ostrobothnia (22).

THL also reported that there were 12 further deaths linked to coronavirus in Finland since Monday, bringing the total to 633 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

19.1 9:47 Paper: Most in Finland to get AstraZeneca vaccine

Finland’s biggest daily Helsingin Sanomat reports that the majority of healthy working-age Finns will be receiving the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, according to Mika Rämet, director of the Vaccine Research Centre at Tampere University.

Read more about this and other stories in Tuesday's press review.

18.1 20:53 Covid testing trial on Tallinn ships to continue

The City of Helsinki plans to continue offering voluntary coronavirus testing of passengers aboard ferries to and from Tallinn, Estonia during peak travel times next weekend.

The city said that only about 10 percent of the roughly 5,700 passengers chose to take the free test during the trial, but that testing this weekend will be offered during high travel volumes on Friday and Sunday--but not on Saturday.

Read more here.

18.1 16:10 Rapid Covid tests to be offered to all at Swedish border

In a pilot programme Finland is planning to intensify coronavirus testing at the Tornio-Haparanda crossing on the Swedish border, by next week at the latest.

Authorities plan to start offering coronavirus quick tests to all those arriving in Finland at the twin cities crossing. Previously, only non-citizens were given the chance to be tested. Read more about this story here.

18.1 12:10 Finland reports 168 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has registered 168 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing Finland's total since the start of the epidemic to 40,505.

18.1 9:25 Papers: 1.7 billion euros budgeted for tackling pandemic

Finland's newspapers on Monday morning reported that 1.7 billion euros out of the state spending for 2021 has been allocated for tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Of this amount, 1.4 billion will be spent on testing and tracing required by Finland's hybrid strategy, based on the "test, trace, isolate and treat" approach.

The papers also reported that the new Minister of Education Jussi Saramo, considers it possible that primary schools will have to switch to distance learning nationwide due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus variant.

"Distance learning would cause huge problems for families and children. I hope that children and young people will only be placed in distance education when experts believe that the measure will have a significant impact on the spread of the disease", he said.

Read more on these stories, and the rest of our paper review, here.

17.1 17:25 Surge in home appliance sales

Working from home is fueling online sales of home electronics and appliances in Finland.

Teleworking during the pandemic has caused sales of electronics and home appliances in Finland to rise by seven to ten percent over 2019, according to Elektroniikan Tukkukauppiaat (ETK), a lobby group representing appliance manufacturers and wholesalers.

Hot work-from-home tech items include headphones, monitors, computers and adjustable desks.

More here.

17.1 11:48 Finland reports 236 new cases

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Sunday registered 236 new coronavirus infections in Finland over the past 24 hours, bringing total cases to 40,337 since the pandemic began.

Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) reported the highest number of new cases with 125 infections, followed by hospital districts in North Savo (26) southwest Finland (13).

16.1 16:50 PM: Government to discuss new border measures

Reacting to news of highly transmissible coronavirus variants, Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Saturday said the government would be discussing new border measures during the coming week.

"We need to minimise passenger flows and at the same time introduce Covid testing at all border points--not only airports," she said, adding "we need a comprehensive testing and quarantine system."

Some 1,500 to 2,500 international travellers currently arrive at Helsinki Airport each day.

16.1 16:30 Booster shot delays possible

Pfizer's announcement to temporarily reduce its European Covid vaccine deliveries is slowing down the pace of vaccinations against coronavirus in Finland.

"We either reduce the number of people getting the first dose or then we delay the booster shot," said THL chief physician Hanna Nohynek.

Read more here.

16.1 13:35 Virologist calls for tougher border measures

Helsinki University virologist Olli Vapalahti told Yle’s Ykkösaamu talk show on Saturday that it was crucial for Finland to stop coronavirus mutations from crossing the border into the country.

"Stricter testing and control measures at the border are necessary," Vapalahti told Yle.

As of Friday, Finland had traced more than 60 Covid infections to new virus variants.

More on this story here.

16.1 11:50 Total cases pass 40,000

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on Saturday registered 190 new coronavirus infections in Finland over the past 24 hours, bringing total cases to 40,101 since the pandemic began.

Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) reported the highest number of new cases with 91 infections, followed by hospital districts in southwest Finland (33) and Pirkanmaa (11).

As of Friday, 145 people are in hospital for Covid-related complications. While new infections have levelled off in the past few weeks, officials are worried about the spread of new coronavirus variants.

15.1 16:51 HUS says epidemic at a turning point in Finland

The Helsinki University hospital district's coronavirus briefing was held on Friday morning, and it touched on low testing rates, new variants and changes to quarantine guidance. You can read our write-up of the briefing here.

15.1 15:55 THL: Pfizer vaccine delays to affect Finland

Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer is upgrading its coronavirus vaccine production capacity which will temporarily reduce deliveries in Europe, according to Reuters news agency.

Svenska Yle reported on Friday that the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) confirmed there will also be delays in getting the Pfizer vaccine to Finland.

Pfizer said that it needed to revamp the vaccine's production due to high demand.

Norway has been awaiting the arrival of a batch of nearly 44,000 Pfizer vaccine doses due next week, but according to local health authorities in the Scandinavian country, only about 36,000 doses are actually scheduled to arrive by that time.

15.1 15:02 Union slams care home mask shortage

Nurses union SuPer has said that staff at a nursing home in Tampere have not been given proper protective equipment. The home has seen at least thirteen deaths due to coronavirus in an outbreak that began in December.

The local municipality runs the home and told Yle that it had followed national guidance on PPE. Our story is here.

15.1 12:02 Finland reports 318 new cases on Friday

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has registered 318 new coronavirus infections in Finland over the past 24 hours, bringing the overall total since the beginning of the pandemic to 39,911.

The highest number of latest cases were reported in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS), with 138 infections.

15.1 11:12 Two more deaths at Kouvola care centre

A total of five patients at the Lautaranta care centre in Kouvola have died of coronavirus-related complications amid a localised outbreak at the facility, authorities announced on Friday.

In addition, a total of 40 coronavirus infections have been confirmed -- 13 staff and 27 patients.

15.1 11:06 Quarter of recent infections in Pirkanmaa linked to bars, restaurants

About a quarter of the recent coronavirus infections diagnosed in the Pirkanmaa area, which is home to the city of Tampere, have been traced to local bars and restaurants, according to officials from Tampere University Hospital (TAYS).

There is more on this story here.

14.1 18:52 Construction federation seeks testing of foreign workers

The Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries (RT) will recommend that its member companies require a negative coronavirus test result from each worker arriving from outside the country.

The move comes in response to the more-infectious strain of the virus that was first detected in England and may have been brought to Finland by Estonian labourers, among others.

Read more here.

14.1 16:01 APN Podcast: Vaccinating Finland

In this week's podcast we asked vaccine experts and scientists what we can expect from Finland's vaccine rollout, where the National Coalition party might go looking for votes ahead of the local elections, and how Finland has handled this week's cold snap.

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

Audio: Yle

14.1 12:22 Finland reports 258 new cases

The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 258 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Finland on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 39,593.

14.1 11:20 Travel restrictions, further border checks on the way

Finland will be introducing tighter restrictions on travel, including the possibility of testing at all sea and land border crossings, but the exact details will not be known until a proposal prepared by the Interior Ministry is ratified by government.

Speaking at the weekly coronavirus briefing, Family Affairs and Social Services Minister Krista Kiuru (SDP) said the government discussed the introduction of new measures at a lengthy ministerial meeting at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on Wednesday evening, but no decisions have yet been made.

"The new coronavirus variant is a matter of great concern," Kiuru said. "As in the spring, there is a great deal of uncertainty, and things that are not known. The threat of an accelerated risk is obvious."

14.1 9:15 Papers: Tighter border controls likely

Finland's press on Thursday morning is full of speculation that the government of PM Sanna Marin (SDP) is preparing to impose tightened travel restrictions, stopping just about any cross-border traffic other than essential business travel, in order to curb the potential spread of new variants of the coronavirus.

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

Read previous updates here.

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